This past week, the state of Hawaii echoed with the troublesome sounds of tsunami sirens. On Sunday, October 28th, a 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck Canada, causing a tsunami alert in Alaska and Hawaii. If you’re a visitor to Hawaii during a time like this, the wailing sirens throughout every neighborhood might cause anxiety, especially if you don’t know what the sounds mean. I think an important rule of thumb for travel is to know the potential threats of the area and be prepared should disaster strike. For example, Hawaii has a much higher likelihood of hurricanes and tsunamis than earthquakes or tornados, so it’s good to do a bit of research on proper protocol when exploring an unfamiliar location.
This leads into our first topic of the day, how hotels prepare for disasters and what to expect if there is an emergency during your Hawaii vacation. No one likes to plan for these types of things, but the sudden strike of last’s week’s tsunami warning is a good reminder that vacationing doesn’t necessarily mean you’re exempt from disaster. In case of tsunamis, hurricanes, power outages, and other serious events, thankfully we have the hotels to look to. They are prepared and trained in the event of most if not all emergencies, and actually plan to provide in times of national catastrophe. If you are vacationing in Hawaii and staying in a hotel, you are in good hands.
The bigger hotels that have event space such as meeting halls and ballrooms will typically gather up all their roll-a-way beds and cots to create shelters not only for hotel guests, but for locals as well. Often times, hotels will also offer free services, such as food, water, and electricity if needed. While in less serious events, hotels may charge a nominal fee for water and sewage usage, in the case of a national disaster, hotels will often times rise to the occasion. Red Cross has been known to set up at hotels to help in medical emergencies too.
If you are staying at an ocean front hotel during the event of a tsunami or tsunami warning, your hotel will alert you and prep you on what needs to happen. It is procedure to evacuate and head for higher grounds if the threat appears to be likely. However, tsunamis are usually anticipated well in advance, which gives guests enough time to gather their belongings and devise a plan. Hotel management and staff will always try to remain calm, and will most likely continue to operate business, unless of course there is complete devastation. Hotels are equipped with things like back-up computers, generators, batteries, chargers, first aid kits, candles, fire extinguishers, and emergency evacuation routes and plans. If you’re ever in doubt about how to handle a disaster while staying in a hotel, you can almost always guarantee that management will be around to help with advice, shuttle services, emergency kits, and local knowledge on things like where the nearest hospital is or the safest driving route for evacuation.
Hotel staff will also alert their guests in multiple ways, to ensure they are well aware of an emergency. Power outages are probably the most common type of inconveniency, but being prepared for this doesn’t take much. Some water bottles, non-perishable foods, and other small supplies are good to have on hand, and can usually be found at the hotel front desk or at a nearby sundry store. Always remember, in the event of an emergency, panic usually makes matters worse. It’s important to remain calm and clear headed, especially if you’re rallying kids or groups of people. Keep in mind that hotels are usually one of the safest places to be, even in the event of a tsunami in Hawaii at your waterfront abode. The higher floors’ hallways act as shelters, not to mention most hotel staff are CPR and safety trained, and run yearly safely procedures on every room to make sure it is up to par. Expect the best but be prepared for the worst, a good rule to live by.
In this day and age, packing isn’t quite what it used to be. With such high charges for baggage fees and the hassle of containing everything into travel sized containers, it seems almost easier these days to simply buy what you need once you’ve arrived at your destination. The convenience of nearby stores and what hotel front desks offer is everything you could expect to find at home (and probably more). Especially in Hawaii. You probably won’t find the selection or variety of certain things for a Hawaii vacation anywhere better than in Hawaii. The ABC stores can be found on almost every corner, and you can get anything from sunscreen to beach umbrellas to slippers, toiletries, gifts, wine, snacks, over-the-counter drugs, and everything in between.
We asked our Facebooks fans this question, and here’s some of the responses we received:
“Lotion!” Unless you think you’ll only need 3 ounces of this, we recommend buying it once you’re in Hawaii.
“Sunblock, hat, sunglasses, swimmers, passport (from Australia)”. Yes to the passport, swim suit, and maybe your favorite hat. Skip out on packing the sun block and sunglasses and buy some cheapos here.
“Nothing! It’s getting cheaper to buy stuff over there at Wal-Mart in Maui than to pay for x-tra baggage. Seriously. I know. I’ve made several trips back and forth ….” Yes, WalMart can now be found in almost every town on Oahu. Never fear when WalMart is near.
“Camera & charger!” This is a great recommendation. It’s always a bummer when you realize you’ve brought the camera, but it’s only halfway charged… and you’ve forgot the charger at home.
“MONEY!!!” This is a MUST. Don’t forget to pack this one, you will surely be needing it.
“Bug spray!” Buy this when you’re here, they’ll probably have a better selection in stores anyways.
“Hiking Boots….if you come to Hawai’i Nei and don’t hike…well, you don’t see Hawaii.” Very, very true. Be sure to pack a pair of tennis shoes or good walking shoes, you’ll be very glad you did.
“A hoodie. It actually feels pretty chilly late at night sometimes” As much as you probably don’t want to hear this, it’s actually true.
“Chargers for phone, camera, laptop. Your meds/your Dr.’s phone #. Health insurance card (just in case!)” This is a great way to be prepared for anything unexpected.
“An empty duffel bag smashed flat in your solo suitcase, so you can carry all your favorite goodies and purchases home onboard the plane with you. This allows you to keep track of (AKA not lose) them, and yet you still have room in your suitcase that you check through.” Quite possibly our favorite comment of all, this person has vacationing in Hawaii DOWN. It’s rare that anyone can leave without bringing home a handful of local goodies, so this is a great thing to pack in your suitcase!