Sun, sand and sea, an exotic cruise, adventure holiday or ski trip?  Our holiday budgets have shrunk but holidays are so important to our well-being that most people are willing to make sacrifices for the chance to get away.  With a bit of luck your plans will go smoothly, but a little forethought could make all the difference if unexpected problems arise – especially travel health emergencies.  With so much at stake it is also wise to have travel insurance in place to protect your holiday investment.

It is easy to forget about basic preparation for emergencies when planning your trip.  If you have a medical problem such as diabetes, allergy, or rare blood type it is important to carry identifying information.  Write it down and keep a copy in your wallet or purse, along with a list of prescribed medicines.  Ideally, also keep a copy with your travel insurance documents and leave a copy at home with family.

Having a permanent skin tattoo is an increasingly popular trend for identification among people with serious or life-threatening medical conditions. This is a great idea, especially for problems such as serious allergies and insulin-dependent diabetics, although it is more common for diabetics to wear bracelets or jewellery.  Also, be aware that diabetics often carry an emergency supply of glucose tablets.

How would you know a person is wearing contact lenses if they do not carry a case with them and/or a pair of glasses.  Defibrillators are available at many locations these days, so check the availability and make a note.  Quick access to one could be life-saver for travellers with heart conditions.

Enter emergency numbers into your mobile phone, such as for the consulate or embassy, and your travel insurance claims contact number.  It is not used in all countries, but ‘ICE’ (code for ‘in case of emergency) entered into a mobile phone is useful for identification and locating next-of-kin.  Make a note of the EU-wide emergency number – ‘112’.

If possible, learn basic first aid (such as the ‘coma’ or ‘recovery’ position and Heimlich manoeuvre). Knowing how to do these procedures could save a life.  Before your next holiday think about your health and make a note of any medical information that would help emergency personnel if you were unconscious and admitted to a foreign hospital.

Reminder:  Declare all pre-existing medical conditions when purchasing travel insurance (many common medical conditions are automatically covered). 

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Flickr cc Image: Alex E. Proimos

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