The U.S. State Department provides a service to U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad. It is called STEP - Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.  Registration is fairly simple and it allows the State Department to get in touch with you if a significant alert goes into effect for the date and region you are traveling in.  I am sure it also helps with locating people who have the misfortune of being caught up in local/regional problems.

The program link is 

I enrolled when I traveled to South Africa a couple years ago. Not sure why but it gave me and my Mom some sense of connection as we were traveling on our own.