Stay Safe While Studying Abroad – And Skip the Air Ambulance Trip
While the fall semester is getting underway at college campuses across the U.S., thousands of students are heading off for the adventure of a lifetime – a semester abroad. While most come home with nothing but great memories, occasionally accidents happen or someone gets sick, and an air ambulance is needed. Before hopping on that plane, it's smart to take some steps to stay safe and avoid the need for long-distance medical transport back to the United States.
Here are some basic safety tips for students studying abroad:
- Check your insurance. Does your policy cover an advanced air ambulance trip if you do need to get back to the U.S. because of illness or injury?
- If you aren't fluent in the language spoken at your destination, try to learn some common phrases so you can communicate in an emergency.
- Avoid unsafe, dark or poorly lit areas, especially if you're alone.
- Try to travel with other people you know, rather than with strangers or by yourself.
- Be aware of your surroundings; tourists are often victims of pickpockets.
- Make sure you know how to find a doctor if you are sick or injured.
The specific safety precautions you need to take really depend on your destination. While many U.S. students head to relatively familiar destinations like Western Europe, study abroad programs in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia are becoming increasingly popular. While you want to prepare for the worst no matter where you are headed, having a plan to stay safe and how to handle an emergency is even more important if you're studying in a country that might not have the same resources that you're used to at home.
Some questions to ask yourself if you're traveling to a less-developed area:
- How easy will it be to get medical care in the country you're visiting? Will you need to travel back to the U.S. (or to a major city) to get adequate care if you need it?
- Is the drinking water clean and safe? Should you avoid certain foods (such as food from street vendors or raw fruits and vegetables) to avoid getting sick?
- Do you need a vaccination (such as for yellow fever if you're traveling to certain parts of Africa) or medicine to avoid certain local illness (such as malaria)? The CDC has a comprehensive list of health concerns for international travel.
Consider visiting a doctor before you travel to reduce the likelihood of an unexpected health crisis disrupting your plans. Finally, no matter what your destination, sign up for the U.S. State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) before you leave so that it will easier for you to get assistance in the event of an emergency. Taking a few basic precautions and planning steps now can make for a safer study abroad experience and help you avoid the need for an international air ambulance – or worse.
To find out more about MedFlight911's advanced air ambulance services give us a call at 888-359-1911 or get a no-obligation medflight air ambulance quote here.