Despite the best of intentions, accidents and illness happen when away from home:  your five year old daughter may not take well to the intense Florida sunshine and humidity and suffer from heatstroke, your mom may catch a cold or the flu, your fifteen year old son may get a little cocky on that snowboard while coming down a slope in the Green Mountains of Vermont and break his leg and require serious medical attention. Before you leave your home country invest in Travel/Emergency Medical Insurance. Talk to your travel agent or go online and search for a company that can underwrite a policy for you. It is inexpensive piece of mind coverage compared to what you may be charged in the case of a full blown (or simple) incident.

You might want to visit USTIA (United States Travel Insurance Association) website at http://www.ustia.org/  to see the list of authorized insurance providers.  If you would like to compare various insurance plans and select the best fit for your visit, you could check out sites like http://www.visitorguard.com | www.visitorshield.com | www.visitorscoverage.com | www.path2usa.com/insurance/ | www.insubuy.com that help you compare, get quotes and buy travel insurance online hassle-free.

Call 911 for all emergencies, police, fire, and medical. There are still some rural areas where the 911 number is not functional and one needs to call specific numbers for help. All urban and essentially all suburban regions follow the universal 911 code availability.  If you dial 911 on a wireless phone, make sure to tell the operator where exactly you are located as GPS phone location technology is not offered on all phone companies and 911 call centers.  Also some 911 call centers for cell phone calls are directed to a state (not local) operated call center, thus the importance to tell the operator exactly where you are, who you are, and what is the situation.

You may encounter insects, spiders, or snakes in the area that you are unfamiliar with: rattlesnakes, Gila monsters, black widows, scorpions, coral snakes, africanized bees, fire ants, copperheads, and water moccasins are all native to the United States and all are venomous.  If you are bitten or stung, please call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222.  Try to remain calm if you are bitten and try to minimize movement if you can: many of the above have hemotoxins in their venom (the more you move the more it circulates through the body) do not hesitate if you think you have been bitten: time counts.

In the event of a non-emergency illness, hotel concierges can arrange for consultations. Inquire about prices, as the fee-for-service nature of American medicine may be unfamiliar to visitors from overseas with government-sponsored health programs. Most travel insurance plans will also provide a multi-lingual emergency assistance service that can be contacted 24/7 , it is advisable to always keep this information handy.