Personal Safety and Security Responsibilities

United States Embassy Nairobi, Kenya

Security Message for U.S. Citizens 

March 13, 2017

The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens to exercise caution and common sense and to practice heightened personal security throughout the year. Personal safety and security is the responsibility of each individual and family member. The below list identifies key preparations and actions that should be taken by U.S. citizens and their family members.

While at Home
  • Ensure all family members know the location of and how to use the safety and security equipment in your home, including door and window locks, perimeter lighting, alarm systems, fire extinguishers, and smoke detectors. Doors and windows should be locked and alarm systems, if available, should be activated overnight and when out of town.
  • Be familiar with your neighborhood and neighbors. If you know what is normal in your neighborhood, anything suspicious will quickly stand out and can be reported to local police for action.
  • Develop and rehearse a family action plan in case of a fire or security emergency. Practice using fire extinguishers and evacuating your home if necessary, or quickly moving to your safe area, locking the door(s), and calling local law enforcement on the phone during a security emergency. Identify a friend’s or neighbor’s home to go to if you must leave your own home.
  • Maintain a one-week supply of non-perishable food, water, and essential medication in your home. Be prepared to remain in your home for extended periods during civil disturbances that may block roads and stop basic services like electricity and water. Keep a basic medical kit inside your safe area.
  • Keep essential documents such as passports, birth certificates, financial items, etc. in one secure location known to all adult family members in case of the need to depart your home quickly.
  • Make sure passports and other travel documents are valid and renew if it’s close to its expiration.
While Driving
  • Ensure local police and hospital phone numbers are readily available on all mobile phones, including family members, and also stored in the glove compartment in case your mobile phone is unavailable. Keep your mobile phones charged and consider carrying a mobile charger. Kenyan Police emergency numbers include 999, 112, and 911.
  • U.S. Embassy staff are prohibited from driving at night outside of major populated areas, except in cases of emergency. U.S. Citizens should avoid driving at night as the lack of street lights, pedestrians in unexpected places, rough and unfamiliar roads, and increased criminal activity make night driving particularly dangerous.
  • Print out and store a pen and three copies of the Kenyan Police Road Accident Form in the glove compartment of all vehicles. Kenyan Police officers cannot process an accident scene without the form and many officers do not carry the form with them. The Kenyan Police Road Accident Form can be found at the following website: http://www.kenyapolice.go.ke/downloads/category/4-police-forms.html?download=3:accident-abstract-form.
  • Be unpredictable in your daily travel, especially your route to and from work. Vary your arrival/departure times and daily routes if possible without exposing yourself to dangerous road conditions.
  • When traveling long distances, travel with two cars if possible. Ensure others are aware of your travel plans and know how to reach you.
  • Ensure your car is in good working condition and keep the fuel tank at least ½ full at all times.
  • Always keep your doors locked and windows fully up, especially when stopped in traffic. Keep valuables out of sight inside the car when driving and parked.
  • Use your mirrors to remain aware of suspicious pedestrians or vehicles moving behind and alongside your vehicle. Use the same level of awareness when approaching residential compound gates.
  • Even in heavy traffic, attempt to keep enough room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you to allow a rapid escape if needed. Your vehicle may also be used as a weapon if absolutely necessary to ram other vehicles or imminent threats.
  • If your attacker is armed, give up your valuables immediately. If your attacker attempts to take you away to another location, consider fighting back as your life may be in danger.
  • Know the location of safe areas such as police stations, major hotels, and hospitals along your daily routes. If you are being followed or harassed, move directly to a safe area and call the local police. Never lead the person back to your home, or stop and get out.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or prescription drugs is prohibited – use a designated driver or a reliable taxi service.
While in Public Places
  • Stay alert to your surroundings, especially suspicious persons or items. If you see something suspicious, immediately notify available security personnel and leave the area.
  • Trust your instincts and use common sense, especially around large crowds that may become violent.
  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the City of Houston, Texas have produced a video entitled “RUN, HIDE, FIGHT” that outlines life-saving actions during an attack. The six-minute video can be viewed on YouTube at home at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VcSwejU2D0.
  • Take note of nearby entrances/exits for quick escape and locations you may use to hide from danger if unable to escape. If an emergency situation does occur, notify local law enforcement as soon as possible and be prepared to provide your exact location to allow for a rapid response.
  • When rescuers do arrive, keep your hands in plain sight and avoid sudden movements and yelling. Lying on the ground with your hands visible is the safest place to be.
  • Maintain a low profile in public and avoid going out alone, especially after dark. Avoid excessive jewelry, electronics, and carrying and flashing large sums of cash. Be wary of persons watching you or attempting to rapidly approach your area.
  • Be prepared to enter your vehicle quickly when walking through parking lots. Stay clear of areas that might conceal danger. Check the interior and exterior of your vehicle prior to entering.
  • If the victim of a robbery, give up your valuables immediately. If your attacker attempts to take you away to another location, consider fighting back as your life may be in danger.
  • Do not leave food or drink unattended to avoid being drugged, especially in bars and nightclubs.
For further information:
  • See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Kenya Specific Information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Kenya located on United Nations Avenue, Nairobi, at +254 (0) 20 363 6451 7:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +254 (0) 20 363 6170.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).