How To Fill Out Your Family’s Emergency Contact Cards

In the days after September 11th, two thousand, one hundred children were left stranded in daycare.

Why?
Because their parents hadn’t filled out one of the fields on their daycare emergency contact cards.
“Who should we contact if you are not able to pick up your child?”
How could something so basic, strand two thousand children on one of the scariest days in American history?
Fear
The inability or refusal to take two minutes to think through what might happen, if they and their spouse were unable to reach their child.  The ridiculous thing is, it doesn’t even have to take a real emergency for this to happen.  You could be stuck on the freeway, or trapped in an airplane you were certain would arrive on time.
So take a few moments to think about it.  And please, please don’t just jot down the first name that pops into your head!
Imagine that you have an accident or are in the middle of a transportation nightmare and you and your spouse are unable to pick up your child from school one afternoon.  Now imagine that you can’t get to her for two or three days.  Who would you want taking care of her?
Choosing Your Emergency Contacts
You need someone who knows your child extremely well.  Someone who would be able to calm her down and would have the energy to care for her.  Someone who knows what she likes and dislikes.  And, in case of extreme emergency like September 11th, it would really help to have someone with the ability, brains and fortitude to help locate you or your spouse, if overburdened emergency personnel weren’t able to help.
That’s the kind of thought you need to put into emergency planning, especially where your children are concerned.
Medical History
Now what about your child’s medical history?  Some schools or day care centers don’t even provide a card for medical history, or the one they provide might be so sparse that it would be useless in a true medical emergency.  Don’t forget that you can simply create a medical history information sheet for them and see that it’s stored with your child’s records.  That way you can be sure that the information you would want emergency personnel to have in an emergency, will be right at their fingertips.
If you have already completed the section on Medical Information, you already have Medical History Forms for you and your children.  So grab their forms and let’s see how you did with them.
Did you include a current list of chronic conditions, allergies, medications and vitamins along with the dosage?  A list of all of your child’s health providers including specialists, dentists and other professionals who see your child on a regular basis?
Did you jot down things that a nurse or physician might need to know to help calm your child down while treating her, until you’re able to be at the hospital?   Your child’s likes and dislikes, favorite foods or toys or anything else that might help.   No matter how old your child is, kids tend to regress a bit when they’re hurting or frightened, so the information you provide here can go a long way towards keeping them calm and helping the medical team give them the treatment they need until you arrive at the hospital.
Take the emergency contact card from your child’s school or daycare provider and fill it in with your carefully-chosen emergency contacts as well as the information from the medical information form.  Like we said, if there’s not enough room to detail important information, just ask the school to store the medical information form you created earlier along with the emergency card.  And be sure to store the medical information form, or a link to it, in your smartphone in case you need to refer to it in an emergency.
Your Own Emergency Contact Card 
Just because you and your spouse are adults doesn’t mean that you don’t need to take your own emergency cards seriously.  Do we have to remind you about all the runners who have been rushed to the hospital in the middle of a 10K without a scrap of medical information?  Didn’t think so!
The moment you begin a job, register for school or run a marathon, you’re going to have to fill out your own card.  The best way to do it?  Exactly like you did for your kids.
Before you jot down your spouse and no one else as an emergency contact, take some time to think of another person or two, who you would want to be notified in an emergency.  Your spouse might be out of town, stuck with a dead cell phone or worse might be involved in the same emergency.
If that’s the case who would you want to be there with you?  Who would you trust to make decisions for you?  To take care of your children if need be, or keep things going until your spouse or other relatives arrive?
And take the same care with your medical history as you did with your children’s.  If there isn’t enough room on the contact form for allergies, medications or other vital information, attach the medical information form — if you don’t have one you can get one from this post .  Or you can simply attach an additional page of information to make sure your emergency form would actually help in an emergency!
Taking five minutes now to turn your emergency contact card into a truly valuable document, could be one of the smartest things you’ve ever done.
Have Fun Getting Your Stuff Together! We’ll talk later…
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