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If Your Child Gets Sick Abroad

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 28 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Child Children Illness Accident Abroad

A child falling ill or having an accident abroad can be a very frightening experience. You may find yourself in an unfamiliar location and trying to cope with an unfamiliar medical system. But there are things you can do to make the experience a little bit easier on all involved. Before you ever leave home prepare for an accident or illness while you are abroad, observe your child's symptoms before seeking medical help, ask for a translator as needed and try to obtain written records of the experience. Even if you don't believe such actions will help immediately they may be quite important later on.

Prepare for an Accident or Illness

It's not bad luck to prepare yourself for an accident or illness abroad, it's common sense. Once you select your travel destinations read up on any particular healthcare concerns in that area, particularly for children, and acquaint yourself with the local medical system. Make sure that you and your children obtain all necessary vaccinations and/or medications prior to travel, and pack a small first aid kit to take with you as well. Don't forget to include sunscreen, plasters, tweezers, children's aspirin, antiseptic wipes, antihistamines for children, anti-inflammatory medicine for children as well as common remedies for coughs and colds. Also make sure to include a children's thermometer so that you can judge a fever should there be a need. Obviously any prescription medications your children take, or need in the event of an emergency, should be included too. Before travelling is also the time to arrange adequate insurance coverage for your family and even apply for a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

Observe the Symptoms

It can be hard to stay focused when your mind is racing due to a child's accident or illness abroad, but remember to pay attention to your child's symptoms so that you can relate this information to medical professionals later. It usually helps to keep notes on symptoms, including when they first started, where the child was and what the child was doing when they started, how long they lasted and if they developed into anything new later on. Also make notes of any medications you have given the child, or any other remedies you have tried such as running a cool bath or using ice or cold packs on a certain area. Try to remember too if anything similar to this situation has happened before, either to the child or other children in your family, and what the most useful remedy was in that case.

Asking for a Translator

Once you approach medical professionals for your child's accident or illness you should feel well within your rights to ask for a translator. There may not be a translator available, but there may be information pamphlets in English or other medical staff who can speak English. Even if you are able to deal with someone who speaks English, accents may be tricky to fully understand. If need be, ask for pertinent information to be written down so that you can look it up later on yourself. If you really can not communicate without a translator but none are available at the medical facility, consider checking with your travel agency or accommodation staff to see if anyone might be able to assist you.

Obtain Written Records

If your child's accident or illness is particularly severe you may want to ask for written records of your child's healthcare. Such records should include who saw the child, the state of the child during examination, medicines used on the child, tests run prior to diagnosis and the ultimate diagnosis. Records will also likely be kept on any prescription medicine dispensed to the child and receipts of these medicines will be useful to complete the whole picture of your child's healthcare and may be needed for insurance claims in the future. If written records are not kept but you need or would like a receipt anyway, ask for an itemised receipt rather than just proof that you paid a certain amount of money. Again, such a record may be useful in the future and/or needed for an insurance claim.

A child falling ill or having an accident abroad is never something you want to happen, but it is something you can prepare for. Read up on your destination, pack a first aid kit, arrange for adequate insurance coverage, remember to observe the child's symptoms, ask for a translator as needed and obtain written records of your child's healthcare to make sure that you do all that you can if your child gets sick abroad.

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