It was a routine Monday evening and I after successfully seeing through the Monday blues was getting ready for dinner. That is when I received an SoS call from my colleague Nitin. Nitin’s wife, Neha who was in the second last month of her pregnancy was admitted to the hospital in pain & discomfort. The doctor, on diagnosing her condition, had informed that the baby needed to be delivered that night. Nitin & his wife, although were mentally prepared for this day, had never expected it to come this soon. The couple, about to be first time parents, had meticulously packed the hospital bag, over the last few weeks. It had everything that Neha needed & could need. However, they ironically missed packing some important things for the baby!
Well, why am I telling you this? Simply to highlight the fact that an emergency is not something that always strikes you out of the blue. It often is just a situation for which you are not prepared.
Just recall the moment during school days when on reaching the exam hall you realise that your lucky pen, diligently filled with ink the night before, is forgotten on your room’s window sill. You frantically searched for another one in the throes of your bag, sensing your mouth go dry and beads of sweat perspiring on your forehead. It took a good 10 minutes to calm yourself down and then focus on the actual exam. This my friend is exactly the reason why your father cajoled you into keeping another spare pen, just in case of an ‘emergency’.
Here’s another of my own example:
This time my wife is admitted to the hospital for the delivery of our baby. While hurrying through the admission formalities, I realise that my debit card had expired a month back and I hadn’t activated the new one yet. So I switched to UPI. But, it had a different bank account linked which doesn’t have enough cash available! The result: panic & unnecessary desperation.
These are day-to-day examples that highlight the lack of preparation to face such situations. Simple things that matter.
Well, going back to the title, I am sure most of you would have assumed this article to be about an emergency fund. Well, it’s right you must absolutely have it. No ‘ifs’ & ‘buts’ about it whatsoever. How much emergency fund to have & where to keep etc. etc. you can read on this link. (link the emergency fund blog). But, you need something more than just an emergency fund.
Since it’s the time of the cricket world cup, let’s draw an analogy from it. An emergency fund is like the 6th bowling option of Shardul Thakur you love to have, but you intend not to use. You of course never wish that your premier bowlers say Bumrah, or Kuldeep Yadav to have an off day. However, having the 6th bowling option is one thing and knowing in which situation to use him is another. That my dear reader and (I take the liberty to assume) cricket lover is the skill of the captain.
So, what else you must have just to ensure you face the emergency well.
One key aspect about dealing with an emergency is to be aware of your options. In one of my recent travels my co-passenger happened to be from the medical field. In the course of the conversation he asked me,
“What would you do if you start sweating heavily with chest pain?”
I automatically blurted out, “Are you talking about a heart attack?”
He smiled knowingly & this is what he said next…
“Since heart attack is so common nowadays, we know it’s symptoms well, to identify it. But there are other cases e.g. stroke about which we are least aware. Now, it is challenging for a non-medico person to be aware of all the life-threatening conditions and their symptoms. However, remember one golden rule. If you feel something different from your usual pain/discomfort, just ensure you get to the nearest multispecialty hospital. There, you would be first stabilised and then diagnosed through a series of tests. Based on the results, if there is nothing serious, you would be let off home. Else a specialist would be summoned to treat you further!”
This struck me.
- How aware are we about our options in such an emergency?
- Do I really know which is the nearest such hospital?
- How should I get there? What options do I have?
- Is there an ambulance available?
- What if I am unable to take that decision, does my immediate family member know about all of the above?
Surprisingly, we are least prepared for such an eventuality and hence many mistake a heart attack for a heartburn. They wait for the symptoms to go away, try some home remedies. Some contact their relatives who are doctors or their family doctor. However, in the case of life threatening conditions time is very crucial.
This is awareness. This brings us to our next aspect to deal with emergency which is:
You may have maintained a sizable emergency corpus, but are your closest family members aware about it. Just in case you are not there, how will your family access the same? Here comes the aspect of transparency.
It’s important that we have open conversations with our family about that emergency fund. Tell them when to use & the quickest way to access it. Share the access details say debit card pin, login password etc. Also share our own backup plan in case the emergency fund is exhausted or there is some technical error when accessing it. This could be the friend that stays nearest & whom we can trust for any help.
We must make our family aware about our health insurance. The policy number, TPA, network hospital, agent details etc. Forget family, very few have really read the corporate health policy issued by our employer. When we ourselves are least aware about how to raise a claim, how will our family do it?
In this digital age when face to face meets are a rarity, do our family know a couple of workplace colleagues? Are their contact details available with them?
My dear readers who stay as bachelors; ensure at least one of your roommates knows whom to contact in your college or office. Make sure your family can contact your roommate, in case they aren’t able to contact you.
Little little things, that matter in an actual emergency.
As we grow older, we have family, young children, ageing parents, multiple investments, assets, sources of income etc. I’s often seen that the partner who is financially more sound & aware manages all this single-handedly. But, what if that partner is no more??
Monika Halan, writer of the famous book: “Let’s Talk Money” urges people to have a file with the name, “If-I-Die-Before-You” file.
This file should ideally have the details of all your bank accounts, assets, investments etc and their access details also. It should have the details of the term insurance & any other insurance say health, business, vehicle insurance & a brief guide to raise a claim. It should also have brief instructions to further manage the investments post your absence, at least for a year or so. The grieving partner and the family would certainly thank you for maintaining such transparency.
Much of dealing with emergencies involves navigating the actual situation. However, spare some thought to avoid the obvious ones. Having term insurance is one such no-brainer if you have somebody dependent on you. Similar is having health insurance to deal with a health emergency.
But again it is protection. Let’s think about prevention….
Eating healthy, regular exercise, staying active & getting adequate rest is prevention of that health scare. Incorporate these as part of your daily routines. Moderate diet as per your needs is the simplest way to stay healthy. As Mr. Balu Gorade, an investor & someone whom I follow on Twitter aka “X” says this:
Recently Nitin Kamath the founder of popular brokerage platform “Zerodha” shared the story of his wife Seema, who has recovered from a gruesome cancer. Seema was always a fitness freak, focused on eating right, yet was diagnosed with a breast cancer. When? During one of her regular health checkups.
You can read about her inspiring & an eye-opening story here:
I am the healthiest person I know, and I got cancer! – Seema.
Regular health checkups go a long way in catching lifestyle diseases in their early stage.
On the same lines is the usage of seat belt in a 4-wheeler & wearing helmet on a 2-wheeler. It is just prevention of a potential emergency, of accident & injury, not of avoiding the challan of traffic police 😁.
As said by the stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius, the stoic philosopher:
“The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing, because an artful life requires being prepared to meet & withstand sudden and unexpected attacks!”.
Think about what can go wrong in a situation. Like in my case of hospital admission. I very well knew money could be required anytime. So, activating the new debit card was a no-brainer.
So, let’s do this thought experiment. Spare a few moments to think about what could go wrong in emergencies. Anticipate the bigger risks & ensure you have a plan for them. You might ask, but how to know which emergency is going to hit me? Well, nobody can tell that, however, one of the best ways to anticipate is to have a conversation with your relatives, friends & family. You learn from their experiences. Look around you. There are so many instances of people getting hospitalised, meeting some accident, losing money to cybercrime, or simply losing their luggage during travel. The situations they have faced & the mistakes they made can help you anticipate what may go wrong with you.
As said by Eleanor Roosevelt (wife of former US President Franklin D. Roosevelt):
- Dealing with an actual emergency situation
As I have said earlier, an emergency situation makes you panic and forces you out of your comfort zone. Having the right mental attitude when facing a crisis is essential. The age old sayings still stand true:
“Tough times don’t last, tough people do!”
“What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger!”
With anticipation it is necessary to prepare yourself as well as your family to deal with a crisis. Inaction due to fear is perhaps the natural response in an emergency. However, having the mindset to accept what is & focusing on the next step absolutely helps in the situation. Just as in the case of my friend Nitin, who knew I could help him. He had the presence of mind to call me in the hospital with the necessary items for his soon to arrive baby.
The armed forces personnel, Rapid action forces or the NDRF (National Disaster Relief Force) are specially trained to develop the mental strength required during a crisis. They are trained to be calm in the face of the storm.
Another important aspect during an emergency is self care. We often tend to ignore our own well-being in a crisis. Not eating well, when a closed one is hospitalised or has left us forever are typical reactions when people are in a state of shock. The emotions during the situation makes us neglect our own care. It’s important to first survive in order to fight & thrive!
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”
– John Lennon
Emergencies are just another aspect of life. Someday or the other we all have to face it. However, even a slight preparation & awareness can go a long way in successfully navigating it.
We at Smart Sync Services & Zen Nivesh strive to bring about such useful articles for you all. The examples in this article are derived from actual real life situations that some of our team members have faced. Do let us know your opinion.