5 Ways to Prepare for a Medical Emergency While on Vacation
When you go on a vacation, the last thing on your mind is probably thinking about what to pack in case you have a medical emergency happen to you or a fellow traveler. Unfortunately, this did happen to us recently during a trip to Orlando, FL. Through our journey, we’ve learned a few things and want to share with you some tips that may help you in case you ever find yourself in a situation like ours – on vacation, away from home, and having to deal with a medical emergency.
1. Make sure you pack your health insurance card(s) and prescription card(s). Our health insurance company issues a card for each family member. Honestly, I had thought about whether or not we needed to bring all six with us or just one to have JUST IN CASE. I’m really glad that this time, I decided to pack all of them. It definitely makes it a lot easier for you to give that information right away to the ambulance provider and hospital(s) so they can start processing the claims with your insurance company right away. When you are going through all of this, the last thing you want to have to remember is to go back and provide the insurance information afterwards so you are not stuck with the full bill.
2. Have a form of identification with you at all times. If you don’t have to show your ID at all during your vacation or don’t have to drive anywhere, it may seem like a hassle to carry around one extra thing while on vacation. However, in times of emergency, having the ID handy is very helpful. When Jim had his stroke and the ambulance came to pick him up, one of the things they asked for was his ID. If you are traveling with someone, make sure you know where their ID and insurance information is located and make sure to tell them where they can find your information. For example, in Jim’s case, he was not able to speak or write for a few days, so luckily I knew where he kept his ID and insurance information.
3. Tuck a list of your medications with the names, dosages, method, and frequency you take them, somewhere near your ID and insurance card. If you are able to, also include the contact information of your regular doctor(s). It will help emergency personnel to have that information when they are administering help to you.
4. Take extra money with you, whether it is cash or a credit card, and leave it just for emergencies. In our case, Jim’s medical emergency happened on the day before we were supposed to head back home. For many people, at the end of a vacation, you may be tapped out on your budget. We ended up having to stay an additional 2 1/2 weeks in Orlando. You want to make sure that you have enough money for meals, lodging, and possibly transportation to and from the hospital. While Jim was in the rehabilitation hospital, we met another person who was on vacation, fell, and broke her hip. There are many different things that can happen. We had also heard that having travel insurance (especially if you are from another country) can help with transportation costs to get you back home. This would be a good thing to discuss with a travel agent to see if it is worthwhile for your trip.
5. Create a list of important contacts with their names, phone numbers, and email addresses and include that with your information. Have close family members who you would want contacted in case of an emergency, neighbors who can check on your home for you, and on this list, be sure to include your employer’s information as well. Luckily, I had access to Jim’s cell phone, which had his manager’s phone number in it. I had called his work to let them know the situation and to let them know that he would not be at work the following week as was originally scheduled. Also, because Jim was not able to speak for a few days, I was able to make the arrangements with his work for the start of his FMLA and short-term disability. One thing I would suggest is granting your spouse or someone you trust well with the ability to speak to the insurance company, health benefits provider, work contacts, etc. Because of many privacy laws, some places will not share information with you or allow you to make decisions for your loved one without their consent. If your loved one provides it before anything like this happens, it makes it a smoother process. All it takes is a phone call or a written letter giving permission for information to be shared with that person.
A great way to make sure that you have the information you need in case of a medical emergency is to have a spreadsheet or document with everything listed above in a cloud-based program, like Google docs, where you can share it with your fellow travelers and loved ones. It is very important to have a a hard copy also with your travel documents.
What other tips do you have to make sure that you are prepared in case of a medical emergency while you are on vacation? Please leave a comment below.
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