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Help! What If I Have to Call 911 on Vacation?

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With the news of Natasha Richardson's tragic accident while skiing in Quebec, we got to thinking. What would we do if something happened -- far from home? If you are traveling with your loved ones and something (God forbid) goes wrong, who do you call? What do you do?

Everyday Health suggests taking some time to do research before you leave can alleviate issues should a problem arise:

Medical Emergencies While on Vacation

Locate a doctor.

The last thing you want to have to do in a medical emergency while traveling abroad is spend your time searching for a doctor who speaks English. This is especially important if you have a particular health issue. It could be critical that you see a doctor who is knowledgeable about that condition.

Check out the State Department website.

Before you head out on vacation, log on to the Web site of the US State Department. Here you’ll find valuable information for people traveling abroad, such as how to protect yourself from specific health issues in different regions you’re traveling to, travel warnings, and more. You should also register your trip with the State Department so that it has your information if there is any sort of emergency while you’re abroad. While you’re on the Web site, you can also print out a list doctors and hospitals for the country or countries you’re going to. Take the list with you so that you can be prepared in case you or someone you’re traveling with needs to see a doctor in the event of a medical emergency.

Go to the website of the foreign country

They often have an English-only section that lists medical resources and phone numbers. It will also list emergency numbers, hospital locations and medical laws and guidelines about such things as prescription drugs.

Get a good travel or guidebook for the areas you are visiting.

In addition to being a great resource for local hot spots, these often contain emergency medical information for international travelers and information about local customs and cultures.

Know how to reach the U.S. Embassy.

If you or a member of your family are injured or become ill while traveling and don’t know where to turn, the U.S. Embassy in the country is the best place to start. They can help you find reputable, English-speaking doctors quickly. They can also help notify your family members back home, as well as help you access money to pay for your care. This is also helpful if you find yourself in legal hot water.

Make sure you bring everything with you.

Any medical paperwork or documentation you might need on the road should be with you, but also accessible in case it gets lost or stolen. One tip is to email it to yourself. That way you have a digital copy that can be pulled up anywhere with Internet access.

Check with your health insurance company.

Your health insurance provider may not cover your medical bills abroad. In addition, if you need to be medically evacuated from the country back to the United States, the cost of transportation can add up very quickly. For that reason, you might consider purchasing a special policy to cover youand your family for the duration of your trip.

Check with your credit card company.

Many credit cards like American Express offer special travel insurance and emergency assistance (including financial) for cardmembers abroad. You may have coverage you don’t even know about!

Work with your hotel.

Medical emergencies happen all the time at hotels. Don’t be afraid to call hotel management if you need assistance — that’s what they are there for.

next: Why Maternity Leave is Becoming Extinct
2 comments so far | Post a comment now
Reba Morss December 23, 2010, 8:16 AM

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