Emergency services in North America are accessed by dialing 911.  We teach our citizens to ‘always’ dial 911.  Emergency services have a different access number almost everywhere else.  Know before you go and confirm when you arrive.

Do you speak the foreign language?  Learn important phrases like “Do you speak English?” “Help!” “Police!” “Fire!” “Ambulance!” in your host country’s language.

For  more detailed information on three digit dialing numbers for emergency services by country, please see 911_ABROAD.

Always register your trip at Travel.State.Gov.  Important health and safety information is available on this site.  Your US Consular will be able to contact you in case of a family emergency back home, or get in touch with you in case of a natural disaster, civil unrest or terrorist threat.  Stay Safe!


It’s a good idea to take time to create a personal health record, like MyMedical App on iPhone. MyMedical keeps your personal profile, emergency contacts, insurance, healthcare providers and other important health information like prior procedures, allergies, medications and more in a logical app on an iPhone. A very important feature is the ability to present your information in multiple languages.

(MyMedical is a proud sponsor of ClearCause.)



Parents and guardians are often ill-equipped to get to their child abroad.

Your emergency contacts should be prepared to get to you with active passports and funds set aside for travel, housing, insurance and legal counsel.  The emergency contacts should be prepared to have someone else step in to manage the household, siblings, pets etc. – just in case.

Passports should have an accurate number for emergency contacts.

Regardless of a student’s age, every youth should have a primary and secondary emergency contact that do not live together.  More is better.  Emergency contact information should be on the student at all times.  An international cell phone with emergency contacts on international speed dial is also a good idea.

Have a code word only you and your emergency contacts know.  Have a communications plan – who to contact and how – Skype? Google+? Facebook? Phone?

If you are over 18 years old, your parents may need your legal permission to advocate for your healthcare abroad.


I authorize (First Name) (Last Name) to secure medical treatment on my behalf in the event of a health emergency, and I accept financial responsibility for such medical treatment.

Signed and Notarized


A medical authorization is not a guarantee that your parents or emergency contacts will be allowed to advocate for you in every country, but it is much more likely.  Keep a copy in English and in the native language of the country visited.