What would you do if, while you were travelling, someone in your party fell ill? Lost their passport? What would you do if a natural disaster struck and you were unable to reach your family to let them know you were OK?
Last week I took part in a chat with our lifestyle editor and a member of the Canadian Red Cross to discuss tips and best practices for dealing with emergencies at home and abroad. By taking some time to do a little planning and research before you travel, you’ll be prepared for any emergency you encounter on the road.
Q: What steps should people take when travelling outside of Canada in case of emergencies? - Mike
Register your travel plans with Foreign Affairs before leaving home. If there’s an emergency abroad or back home, having registered with the government could help locate you or reconnect you with your family. To register, visit travel.gc.ca
Contact the Canadian consulate in your destination if you run into an emergency. Before you go, write down the phone number, address and other contact information for the consulate in case you need to get in touch with them when travelling. Consulates can help with a number of things, including finding emergency medical help from registered, local doctors and medical facilities and contacting your next of kin if you are injured. You or your family back home can also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at anytime by calling 613-996-8885, toll-free at 1-800-387-3124 or emailing email@example.com. This is only for Canadians in emergency situations.
Plus, make sure you have ample travel insurance coverage. The cost of a stay at a foreign hospital can add up very fast!
Q: I’m travelling to Greece this summer and I’m freaked out about pickpockets. What do I do if I lose my passport and wallet? - Melissa
Know where the Canadian consulate is in the country you’re travelling to and the contact information for that consulate. Consulates can help obtain emergency travel documents if you lose your passport and offer assistance if you are robbed or assaulted. Visit travel.gc.ca for a list of contact information from all Canadian embassies.
Some other smart tips: Make sure medications and valuables are also in your carry-on baggage, not your checked luggage, just in case the checked bag is lost or stolen in transit. Don’t flash jewellery or expensive items and keep money tucked in a purse or money belt that is on the front of your body to avoid pickpockets. Use the safe in your room for other valuables.
Q: My girlfriend and I are going on a cruise in a few weeks and I’ve heard they have a reputation for “covering things up”. What should we do if something illegal happens? – Brian
There are a number of things you can do to keep yourself safe on a cruise. Familiarize yourself with the location of the onboard medical centre and the emergency evacuation routes on your cruise ship. Know where your exits are and how you’ll get yourself – and your family out – in an emergency. Attend the emergency training session at the beginning of your cruise to learn about exits, safety boats and emergency evacuations. Follow the safety precautions you would on a night out at home: Stick to main, well-lit corridors that are well populated and make sure your group knows where you’re going if you decide to venture out alone.