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Before You Travel--Spend a Few Moments to Make an Emergency Preparedness Kit

Are you prepared for an emergency while traveling?

Could you easily answer these questions about your spouse?

  • What is your spouse's social security number?
  • Who is your spouse's medical insurance carrier?
  • What are the contents of your spouse's wallet?
  • What jewelry he/she is wearing at the moment?

    This information may seem unimportant until an emergency arises. An crisis situation never happens when it is expected and it is least expected when you are on vacation. Recently, my husband and I traveled to Tucson, Arizona. We planned a fabulous trip of sightseeing, which included a cattle drive on a dude ranch. My husband was an experienced horseman, but he was no match for a horse named "Andy," who threw my husband to the ground, breaking his ankle. It was a compound fracture that resulted in four hours of surgery and a five day hospital stay.

    I always took "vacation" literally. As soon as I boarded an airplane, my mind went blank and I concentrated on fun. My husband always took care of the details during the trip. In Arizona, suddenly I was asked for details that I did not have at my fingertips. Luckily, my husband has a passion for details and I was able to find all the information I needed in due time. I was fortunate that my husband was conscious before surgery so that he could help me locate this vital information. This trip taught me a lesson about travel - pay attention!

    Here is a simple checklist of information that is crucial in an emergency situation:

  • Carry a small notebook so you can jot down information as you travel:
  • Make a notation of where you parked your car in the airport parking lot. (Keep an extra set of keys. To add insult to injury, I locked my keys in the rental car as I arrived at the hospital during our Arizona trip.)
  • Write down the name and telephone number of the hotel where you are staying.
  • Note your spouse's social security number and medical insurance carrier. Include the telephone number of the medical insurance carrier because many of the insurance agencies require notification of hospitalization.
  • Emergency contact at home. Who should be notified in case of emergency? Include relatives' work and home telephone numbers.
  • Have a general idea of what valuables your spouse has on his/her person when traveling (jewelry, wallet, credit cards, etc.). This will help if an emergency situation arises and you find yourself in the hospital with a bag of your spouse's personal belongings.
  • Know your spouse's special medical conditions and allergies. If your spouse is on medication, pay attention to the type of medication, where your spouse keeps his/her medication and the frequency of dosage.
  • Blood transfusions - request prior to surgery. If your spouse would prefer not to have a blood transfusion during surgery (unless absolutely necessary), this needs to be communicated to the surgeon.

    The following checklist can be cut out and taped to the inside of your suitcase for easy reference as you pack for your trip:

    Automobile:
    1. Telephone number of the rental car company.
    2. Extra set of keys to personal car and rental car.
    3. International drivers license for both husband and wife.
    Medical:
    1. Location of spouse's medication.
    2. Name and telephone number of spouse's primary physician.
    3. Location of spouse's medical insurance card.
    Travel needs:
    1. Location of airline tickets and passports.
    2. Maps of the area. Directions to the hotel.
    3. Phrase book of emergency terms for any country you are visiting (you may not be in the capital city of the country or you may be in a country where English is not the second language).
    Telephone:
    1. Name of spouse's employer and telephone number.
    2. Telephone card (with international capabilities, if appropriate).
    Money:
    1. Dual signature on traveler's checks. Location of traveler's checks.
    2. Emergency source of money (traveler's checks, relative or other contact.
    3. Money for taxi. Change for telephone (in currency of country where you are traveling).

    Remember, hospital personnel are there to help you. Ask lots of questions and expect timely answers. The hospital social worker can be of assistance with travel-related questions. Try to ask questions ahead of time so that you can concentrate on discharge on the last day in the hospital.

    Before you dismiss the information in this article as frivolous, remember that emergencies do not happen when they are convenient. Accidents happen when you least expect them. It's no fun to be stranded in a hospital in a strange city on vacation, but if you are prepared with the basic emergency information, it can be a much more tolerable situation.

    Becky Ellis is an avid traveler with a renewed sense of detail... She is an MBA and works in the medical community. One of her goals is to enjoy sharing her travel experiences with others.


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