By Roy Benaroch, MD
Last week I wrote about staying safe at the big amusement parks. What about heading overseas to London for the 2012 Games? The CDC has released some health guidance to keep everyone safe while having a good time.
Make sure all of your routine vaccinations are up to date, especially vaccines to protect against measles (MMR) and pertussis (also called whooping cough, this is part of the DTaP and Tdap vaccines.) Unfortunately these diseases have made a big comeback, especially in Europe, where vaccination rates have fallen.
Think ahead about medical insurance — does your coverage extend to overseas? Consider buying travel insurance for coverage if health services are needed during travel.
Learn how to access emergency health services. In London, you don’t dial 911 — the emergency number there is 999 or 112. Wherever you travel, do your research ahead of time: know how to call, and whether your home cell phone will work.
Even in English-speaking countries, names may be different. In London, it’s not an Emergency Room or an Emergency Department. It’s an “Accident and Emergency Department,” usually abbreviated “A&E”. The CDC information page includes other words and phrases that are different in the United Kingdom.
Don’t let traffic surprise you. You may not realize it, but in the U.S. you’re used to looking left, then right, then left again before you cross a street. London traffic comes from the other direction! Make sure to look both ways every time, and remember that the closer traffic will be coming from your right side.
Consider registering ahead of time with the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollement program. By sharing your travel plans, you can make it easier to get assistance with medical or other emergencies while traveling abroad.