Emergency planning isn’t usually on the top of anyone’s mind under normal circumstances, but there’s nothing like a global pandemic to bring it to the fore.
In such volatile times, especially while living abroad from your home country, it makes sense to ensure that you have all of the documentation in place to safeguard your loved ones were your circumstances to change for the worse.
1) Equip yourself with First Aid skills
The first step is to make sure every adult in the house (and any children who are old enough) has the relevant first aid skills, and that you have first aid kits available: “This will allow for minor accidents or illnesses to be dealt with at home rather than needing to go to hospital, which is extremely important under current circumstances when there is such a significant focus on avoiding unnecessary trips to the hospitals and clinics,” says Hannah Greenwood, Director, Finsbury Associates, which runs family safeguarding workshops in the community and online. First Aid providers Safe Hands are now offering first aid training and certification online (where you can also purchase first aid kits), run by registered nurses, which teach the basic first aid knowledge needed to deal with both minor and serious incidents or injuries.
WATCH: First Aid video on what to do if your baby is choking
2) Get on your ICE plan
“Now is a good time to sit down and go through each part of your In Case of Emergency (ICE) plan (or to set one up if you don’t currently have one),” says Greenwood. This involves collating everything you have with regards to important documents, from house deeds or tenancy contracts to bank account details and insurance admin. “Make sure you would have access to emergency funds in any eventuality, which includes having bank accounts with emergency cash in single names [as joint bank accounts in the UAE will initially be frozen in the event of one of the account holder’s deaths],” says Greenwood. “Ensure that you have everything in place and that it is stored together, preferably in a fireproof box. Put together a spreadsheet of all of your assets and make digital copies of all your important documents and give a copy to your In Case of Emergency contacts [see below].”
3) Nominate ICE contacts – and tell them about it
It’s important to have some In Case of Emergency contacts in place – friends, family or an official based either in the UAE or abroad (although at least one temporary contact should be based in the UAE to help with arrangements locally) that you nominate to help look after your affairs in the circumstances that you were unable to. Ensure that your ICE contacts know you have nominated them, and that they have copies of your ICE documents – or at least know where to find them.
4) Set up a letter of wishes (if you don’t already have guardianship and wills documentation)
Every parent’s first thought were something to happen to them is of course, what would happen to my children? In the UAE, it’s important that you nominate a locally based temporary guardian who can look after your little ones if you are not able to – this can be a friend, a relative, even a nanny, who can care for your children in any interim period that might exist while a more permanent guardian travels from abroad. If you have not already set up guardianship documentation then Finsbury Associates has a civil letter of wishes available that can be completed: “We advise that anyone that does not have guardianship in place complete this as a first stage,” says Greenwood.
During the lockdown period this can also help if you have not yet registered a will: “The same can be done in regards to writing down your wishes for how you would want your estate to be divided in the event of death,” adds Greenwood. “We would advise when the courts are back to running as normal that all the documents are registered here in the UAE, but for now having your wishes written down is absolutely better than having nothing in place.”
Read more: Your guide to custody and guardianship In the UAE
5) Provide for your loved ones’ future
Lastly, ensure that you have personal life and critical illness cover in place and your amount of coverage is still suitable, says Greenwood. “Also check the validity of your insurance if your policy was taken out in your home country and not purchased whilst here in the UAE.” Life insurance is still valid during the pandemic, and it is still possible to take out a new policy during this time: “The UAE have done a great job in ensuring that insurance companies have not increased their premiums and even though a pandemic has been declared we have had confirmation from all the UAE insurance companies that their life insurance will still cover Covid-19. You are also still able to apply for life cover during this period, although additional questions may be asked regarding travel of that individual prior to application.”