Health & Safety

Medical Insurance

Medical insurance is included in your trip cost- please see the information in your orientation packet for details. The medical insurance covers you for the official dates of the trip (April 15-28). If you plan to extend your trip any longer, you are of course responsible for your own medical insurance.

Embassy Registration

Prior to your departure, please register with the your county’s embassy to inform them of your trip to Fiji. In the event of an emergency such as a natural disaster, this helps the embassy to know that you are in the country and to provide you with any assistance you may need. This is also helpful in more minor cases, such as a lost passport.

You can register your trip plans online in most cases.

For the US: https://step.state.gov/step/
For Canada: http://travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration
For New Zealand: https://register.safetravel.govt.nz/login
For the UK: The FCO has unfortunately discontinued its traveler registration program.

First Aid and Emergencies

A first aid kit is available on the build site at all times. A vehicle will also be present at the build site full time in case of any emergency. In addition, our hosts have contacts for doctors, dentists, and hospitals should the need arise. I will be double-checking with you individually to make sure that your emergency contact info is current.

Please follow-up with your personal doctor for any last medications or vaccines that you need for the trip. See the CDC website for more info as well: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/fiji

Emergency numbers in Fiji:
• Emergency Police: 917
• Emergency Ambulance: 911
• Emergency Fire: 911

Worksite safety

Bring sunscreen
Wear a t-shirt and long pants
Drink, drink, drink water!
Always pay attention to your mason’s advice
Have fun, but please don’t play around with materials or tools.
Check the site for any potential risks. If you can take your time to mitigate it, we encourage you to do it (cover holes, clean muddy spots, etc)
Put away any tool you stop using in a safe place. Don’t leave tools lying around that could become potential risks to others.

Safety at the build site is our top construction priority. Volunteers with every possible level of construction skill will be working around you at all times. Taking this into account, it is the responsibility of each of us to be patient and sensitive. By following these tips, we can ensure that the week will run smoothly and safely.

Keep an attitude of safety
Above all, know your limits and do not push yourself too hard. Think before you act, and consider the risks that are involved in all that you do. Also, use the ‘buddy system’ – volunteers should keep an eye on each other. If you notice that your ‘buddy’ looks ill, help him or her to a place to rest and tell your Team Leader. Get medical attention if necessary. If you are unsure how to perform a task, do not hesitate to call upon your Team Leader or the Construction Manager, who will be happy to assist you.

Before working…survey!
Before working in any area, be sure to inspect the site. Look around your feet and overhead for obstacles and potential hazards. Organize the workspace within your reach. Be especially careful when carrying long objects, such as lumber, so as not to hit other people. Keep your eyes open for excavations, openings, edges of slabs and slippery areas. If an area looks unsafe, report it to your crew leader immediately.

A clean site is a safe site
Keeping your site clean is essential to safety throughout the day. You should make sure that trash is kept contained. Keep track of your tools. If you see something that does not belong, please put it in a safe spot. Tools should not be placed above people’s heads (such as on top of a wall or on a ladder).

Exercise caution on roofs and ladders
Be aware that you can be severely injured by a fall from even a low height. You should be particularly careful when working at a height of six feet (1.8meters) or more. When using a ladder, do not use the top two steps, and have a partner hold the ladder to keep it steady. Only one person should go up the ladder at a time. Ladders should be properly stabilized. If the ladder is unbalanced, dig down the higher side to make the ground level, rather than putting a block under the lower side. When working on the roof, move slowly and carefully. Be careful with tools and other objects so they do not fall off.

Take care when lifting and carrying
When lifting, stand close to the load, bend your knees, grasp firmly and then lift by straightening your legs. Keep your body vertical. Get help with heavy or long loads. Do not lift beyond your strength. Select the correct tool for your work. Carry only what you need.

Always speak up for safety’s sake!
If something looks unsafe, speak up so that it can be corrected immediately. Report all injuries and accidents to your Team Leader.
Personal Safety

People who travel frequently often become complacent about their personal safety- please read the following even if you’re a seasoned traveler!

Theft prevention: Like any city, crime happens in the main centers. There is not a lot of violent crime but petty theft is a problem in Fiji. Volunteers can reduce the risk and reduce losses by taking a few common sense precautions:
• Valuables and passports: valuables should be left at home. The hotel does not provide safety deposit boxes. If you do bring valuables, you can carry them with you at all times, or during build days, valuables can be locked in the hotel locker or in the Habitat vehicle.
• It is critically important to be careful with cameras, wallets and other items while in town or the job site. Inevitably, all kinds of people wander in and out of the site. Over the last two years Habitat Fiji has had a low rate of losses and would like to keep it that way.
• Be mindful of pick-pockets in crowded areas where you might be distracted.

Con-artists :The cities and towns do have con artists and volunteers or tourists are often targeted. These are some of the common con routines that you should be aware of:
• You may be approached by someone telling you they are a friend of Habitat. They will shake your hand and tell you a story of their wife or child who needs medical attention. Just tell them you are already contributing through Habitat for Humanity’s volunteer build.
• There are also famous ‘sword sellers’ who approach tourists. They appear to be friendly and ask you many questions but when you give your name, they carve it into a useless piece of wood and demand you pay for it. Unless you want a useless piece of wood with your name on it, refuse firmly but pleasantly to pay and say they can speak to the GV Coordinator. This is not such a popular con these days, but still helpful to know.
• A newer con is people asking you to swap smaller notes for a FJD 50 note, to then be told that you gave them FGD 5, not a FJD 50 note. Just walk on if anyone asks you to change money.

There are genuine people in need who will ask about how they can get a home with Habitat for Humanity. You will be briefed during the orientation on how to deal with this.

Security tips
• Bring the cheapest watch you own, or buy a cheap watch and never take it off your wrist.
• It is recommended that you not bring a laptop computer. Go to internet cafes.
• Preferably do not bring very expensive cameras. Understandably you will want to bring a camera, but if it is expensive be extremely cautious.
• Avoid expensive boots, jackets and backpacks.
• Bring a cheap mobile phone if you really need one and be careful where you leave it for charging.
• Leave all but the one credit card you need at home.
• Have two photocopies of your passport and keep them in separate places. If your passport is stolen (usually with your bag) this greatly helps the replacement process. Do not bring unnecessary valuables to Fiji.

The majority of GV trips happen without incident- these tips are just to remind you to use common sense!

 

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