Preparing for Emergencies Can Be a Lifesaver

As an emergency physician, I tell patients you can’t be prepared for every eventuality but you can be ready for the unexpected! A little planning ahead can be a lifesaver – literally! Here are questions and answers to consider to help you prepare for emergencies.

What kind of medical information is important to document and keep up to date?

Make sure you have complete and updated medical information for yourself and family members. Be sure to include a list of any prior medical problems, surgeries, medications or allergies for everyone. Besides keeping copies at your home or office, you can also keep a copy on your smartphone and have it available should you end up in the ER. Anyone with a severe allergy should consider getting a medical bracelet or necklace that identifies his or her allergies.

What are some important numbers or paperwork to have ready?

In your home or programmed on your cell phone, have all the emergency numbers for family members and your physicians, as well as the local poison control number and even your local emergency rooms. Post these numbers near your home phone and make sure your children and any baby sitters know where they are.

If you have to leave town and are leaving your children in the care of others, sign and leave a Consent to Treat Form, giving your children’s temporary caretakers the right to authorize any treatment or surgery for them in the event of an emergency. You can download these forms on the American College of Emergency Physicians’ website.

How do I keep my first aid kit well stocked?

Always have a well-stocked first aid kit in your home or car. You can buy ready-made kits or you can make and stock one yourself from your local pharmacy. According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, a good home first aid kit should contain at least the following:

  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • Cough suppressant
  • Antihistamine
  • Decongestant
  • Assorted bandages
  • Elastic wrap
  • Gauze and adhesive tape
  • Scissors and tweezers
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Hydrogen peroxide and isopropyl alcohol
  • Disposable instant cold and heat packs 

Stock both pediatric and adult doses of medications, as well as a children’s dosing syringe. 

You may also consider taking a first aid course or learning CPR. You can check with the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association about classes near you.

Medical emergencies are stressful enough. This little bit of planning and preparation can give you some peace of mind and allow you to remain a bit calmer in the event of an emergency. 

Drowning: How to Respond

It's critical to get the person breathing again as soon as possible.

Drowning can happen quickly. Three children die every day from drowning, and most fatal incidents happen from lack of appropriate supervision. Every minute that passes is critical in saving them or preventing serious injury. Here's what to do if you see someone drowning and you need to help rescue them.

Call 911

You should alert emergency responders as soon as possible. If there are other people around, instruct someone to make the call. If you are alone, help the drowning person until you can give CPR for one minute and then call 911 yourself (then continue life-saving measures).

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