As we found out the hard way, some hospitals don’t make calling your next of kin their priority.
Here’s what to do to keep YOUR family safe.
When a patient is brought in the emergency room unconscious, aside from obvious injuries, the doctors caring for him basically have no information about their patient. They have no idea what he might be allergic to, what medications he’s taking or the surgery he had the month before. Elaine Sullivan was an active seventy-one year old living on her own in Chicago. One day while getting ready to take a bath, she slipped and fell, striking her head and mouth on the side of the tub. Her neighbors realized they hadn’t seen her all day and called the paramedics, who went in and found her, conscious, but unable to speak.
Elaine had previously been a patient at the hospital she was taken to, she had private insurance, Medicare and everything she needed. Or so she thought. Even though she was stable, injuries to her mouth made her unable to speak or swallow, so she was unable to speak for herself. Over the next few days, after a series of serious medical errors and a critical drug interaction, her condition worsened.
Elaine Sullivan was my grandma. Despite the fact that the hospital had my mother’s and my contact information for our home in Los Angeles, the hospital neglected to call us for 6 1/2 days. By the time they did, Grandma was in critical condition from a lack of the most basic care. By the time we found out she’d been hospitalized, we were unable to get to her bedside before she died, unnecessarily and alone.
As we found out the hard way, some hospitals don’t make calling your next of kin their priority.
Even though most hospitals try to find an unconscious patient’s emergency contacts and notify their families in a reasonable amount of time, hospitals can sometimes become so busy or are so understaffed that they don’t make that call as quickly as they should.
We later found that one of the main factors that caused Grandma’s death was the fact that the doctors treating her didn’t have her medical or prescription drug history at their fingertips.
But the lesson we want to point out is, how critical communicating a person’s vital medical information can be.
And recent natural disasters and terrorist attacks have only amplified the need to get a trauma victim’s identification, medical history and emergency contact information to the physician treating him as quickly as humanly possible.
Your Emergency Medical Information
There’s nothing worse than having something on the tip of your tongue and not being able to remember it – except when the word you’re trying to remember is the name of a medication that the emergency room physician needs to save your daughter’s life.
Emergencies can rattle the best of us, and the phone number or facts you know by heart are the very ones that will elude you when you need them most!
You just can’t leave information that important up to your memory. Let’s get it down on paper, where it belongs!
1. What Information Am I Going To Need?
Grab a pencil and paper and jot down the types of medical information you have for each member of the family.
This includes your family’s medical history, medical information, names of everyone’s physicians, specialists, dentists, optometrists and other health care providers and current and past prescriptions.
2. The Most Important Things Are…
Close your eyes for a moment & imagine that you’re sitting in the ER with everyone in your house. One by one, imagine that your spouse, each child or your parent has an injury, like a broken arm, or needs emergency surgery. The doctor – someone who doesn’t know you or your family’s unique medical or emotional needs – walks through the door.
What does this doctor need to know about them? Jot down all of the things that just went through your mind. Old injuries, allergies, surgeries, anything you think is important.
3. Locate and Gather All The Information You Have
Using those notes and the list you completed in Step 1, locate and gather all of the medical information you have at home, along with your address book or contact information for physicians and the people you’ll be using for emergency contacts.
4. Create Your Medical Information Forms
Grab a copy of our Medical History Form, or if you have our newest book slash program Ready, there’s a copy in the back of the book. Create one for each adult and child in your family, adding all of the information you’ve located.
5. Choosing Your Emergency Contacts
Choose and name at least 3 emergency contacts for each person, including yourself.
Main Emergency Contact: If you are married, include your spouse on your form and yourself on your spouse’s form. For your children, this would be you and your spouse.
2nd Contact: should be a nearby relative or good friend who you would trust enough to make informed choices on your behalf, if necessary.
3rd Contact: should be an out of town/out of state relative or friend.
6. Anything Else To Add?
Is there any other information you need, to deal with a medical emergency while evacuated or away from home? If so, scan or make copies of that information and place it in the same folder as your completed medical history forms.
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to put ICE (In Case Of Emergency) Contacts in your and your family’s smartphones along with a copy or link to your medical history forms. That way if you ever need quick access to a family member’s medical history you’ll have it right at your fingertips. Need instructions on ICE Contacts? Click hereto read the blog post.
7. Now For Safekeeping…
Print, scan or make three copies of the form you just completed, along with the documents or other materials you need and store them in at least three secure, damage-proof locations. That way if one or two of the locations are inaccessible, you’ll still be able to grab the information you need.
If you’ve decided to print out your forms and medical documents on paper, you can place them:
In a safe deposit box or water/fireproof safe in your own city.
In your watertight Plastic Evacuation Bin. Only place the documents that you actually need in this bin. If you’ll also have access to copies of your vital documents in your safe deposit box, then don’t take anything with you that you would worry about if it were lost.
With your emergency contacts or with relatives in the city where you’ll be evacuating.
In your file cabinet at work/office. If your spouse, child or relative is injured while you’re at work, you can grab the medical information from your files and take it to the emergency room.
If your forms and medical documents are on your computer, you can:
Save the forms to your smartphone so that if a member of your family is ever rushed to the emergency room, you can send the form directly to the emergency physician, so that they’ll have a medical history immediately, before you even arrive at the hospital.
Place the forms and documents on a password-protected online file repository or even the file directory of your family’s personal web site. This way if you need a copy of your information or forms quickly, you can retrieve them from any computer or send a link to the forms to the hospital, from your iPhone or smartphone.
Save them to a password-protected flash drive or portable hard drive, and take them with you during evacuation on a key ring or in your evacuation bin.
Place the password-protected flash drive or portable hard drive, in a safe deposit box or water/fireproof safe in your own city.
Place the password-protected flash drive or portable hard drive, in a safe deposit box, water/fireproof safe, or with relatives in the city where you’ll be evacuating.
If you’d like to download a copy of How To Keep Your Medical History At Your Fingertips, click here. One important note: DO NOT put your or your family’s social security numbers in your list of vital information or in online files or folders, no matter how secure they are. If you have to have those numbers with you (and haven’t memorized them), copy or scan the originals and place them in a secure safe deposit box instead.
Have Fun Getting Your Stuff Together! We’ll talk later…
As Hurricane Isaac made landfall on the New Orleans coastline as a category 1 storm, residents couldn’t help remembering another storm just a few short years earlier that took the lives of at least 1,836 people and changed the lives of tens of thousands more.
But even with a category 1 storm like Isaac, lives can change.
Just ask the residents that didn’t think that Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Irma were going to be as big a deal as Superstorm Sandy or Hurricane Katrina and decided not to evacuate.
People who thought that their homes would be okay, ended up having to grab whatever they could — not necessarily what they would need – and evacuate with just a few minute’s notice.
It certainly proves one thing — you just can’t count on history or predictions, to help you decide what’s right for yourself, your property or your family.
So what’s the best way to prepare for a hurricane?
It’s a good lesson for us all. Even though you might not technically live in a disaster zone or directly in the way of an approaching hurricane or wildfire, it doesn’t hurt to have the things that are important to you, ready to go. As we tell our customers (and practice ourselves), you have to keep your vital information, documents and keepsakes backed up to at least three different locations and your emergency bin packed ready to go at a moment’s notice. That way if you suddenly have to evacuate, those things will already be taken care of. It’s just one more thing you won’t have to worry about doing at the last minute or doing without, later.
The best thing about a hurricane — at least as opposed to earthquakes and tornadoes — is that you usually get a few days notice that they’re coming. Like our friends in New Orleans and Tampa, Hurricane Isaac was predicted giving some residents time to gather up their belongings and evacuate. But of course Isaac turned the opposite direction striking areas that weren’t originally expected. One important take-away from these disasters is the importance of staying aware and using evacuation warnings to get your own stuff together even if the homes on your particular street aren’t in immediate danger. Heed warnings when they are given! Stubbornly staying behind because residents think they can “handle it” has gotten thousands of people killed. Another lesson is to always purchase flood insurance.
So how do you prepare for a hurricane? As we tell our readers, we always follow the Three Step Approach.
Make sure that you have your disaster survival gear and know how to secure your home and personal safety when a hurricane strikes.
Make sure that you’re able to grab everything you need – necessities, keepsakes, vital information – and leave for a safer location, in less than ten minutes. It’s a lot easier than it sounds. All you need is to do is to take the necessary steps now, to ensure you have access to all the items and information that will help you get back to living your normal life, as quickly and easily as possible. You’ll also want to make sure that the things that are most vital to you — your important papers, financial and insurance information, treasured photos, videos and music and scannable keepsakes are backed up onto a portable hard drive and stored in a safe deposit box or safe, in the town where you will go during evacuation. That way it will be safe, sound and waiting for you when you arrive.
Make sure that you have a pre-written plan of what you’ll do and where you’ll go when a disaster strikes, including a plan for how you’ll get back to your normal life, once the disaster is over.
If you live in hurricane country, you absolutely need an Evacuation Plan and a Get Back To Life Plan. If you don’t know the evacuation routes in your area, call your local fire department for this information way before hurricane season. And while you’re at it, make sure you also ask them where the emergency shelters are in your area in case you suddenly need one. You always need to know where you’re going and what you and your family would do if your area becomes uninhabitable. If necessary make a plan with other relatives or neighbors to evacuate together and share transportation and costs.
Even if your home is safe from rising flood waters and away from the areas predicted to feel the heaviest impact of the storm, your neighborhood and city might still without power or basic city services for a few days — or a few weeks. Just as survivors of Hurricane Isaac and Hurricane Katrina! Telephone and/or cell service may also be down. Not only does that mean you won’t have light, but you also won’t have power for computers or televisions and radios. Grocery and drug stores won’t be able to ring up purchases, ATMs won’t work, garage door openers might not function. Name any tool or convenience we rely on in this world and chances are it’s powered by electricity.
So if your hurricane plan is to shelter-in-place make sure that you always have an alternative source of power, battery powered flashlights, extra cash, a supply of canned or frozen food that doesn’t need to be cooked to be eaten, and the all-important supply of water – enough to last you and everyone in your family for three days. Since your home or neighborhood might have significant damage, keep rubber-soled shoes, a warm jacket and other emergency gear within reach of your bed or right inside your closet. Rubber soled shoes will protect your feet from the broken glass, turbid water and rocks that will probably be strewn everywhere.
We aren’t going to get into the details of how to turn off your gas, when to boil water or a list of items to have on hand for a hurricane, because there are literally hundreds of sources for that information, including a few of our favorite guides and videos listed below:
You should also create or update yourevacuation checklist, detailing the items that you and your family would need if you were unable to live in your home for three or more days. This includes all of your necessities, prescriptions, vital documents (or access to them on portable hard drives, online or in out of area safe deposit boxes), keepsakes, personal and professional contacts, ID and basic medical history and anything else that your family will need while evacuated.
We want you to think about something.
Think about the coverage of the last few hurricanes and floods you saw on CNN. Like Hurricane Sandy for example. Remember the faces of the people in the midst of the storm?
They looked shell-shocked, terrified, lost. Most of those people, were at least moderately prepared for a disaster. Those in earthquake country most likely had stockpiled some food and water, those in hurricane country might even have evacuated and done everything their local news and emergency authorities told them to do. And yet, after the disaster, they were standing there, scared and helpless, because their homes, the people they loved, and basically their entire lives have been destroyed to the point that their own existence was now unrecognizable. All of those people, rich and poor, young and old — they all had one thing in common. They had NO idea where to go and what to do from here.
And THAT – knowing what to do and where to go after the disaster, is step three. The most important step of all.
Facing a disaster without giving yourself a plan to recover from it, is like trying to build a house with no blueprint and no tools!
Having two plans can make all the difference in getting you through those first few days and weeks after a disaster strikes.
What are the plans? They are the Family Evacuation Plan and the Get Back To Life Plan — the same plans that we’ve built into our newest book Ready.
The evacuation plan is pretty simple. It all comes from one question… If you were at home or at work and suddenly had to evacuate your home, or your general area, where would you go?
As you think about the locations you’ll use for your evacuation, consider, the people traveling with you, how you’ll get there (car, bus, plane), any pets traveling with you and whether those locations will actually work for you – for instance are they close to stores or services your family might need, like pharmacies, clothing, banks and doctors.
We suggest that people have three different locations in mind, to give you different types of locations and choices depending on the circumstances. As you create your plan, write everything down in detail. If you have to use this plan, you and the people you love are probably going to be in panic mode and following an easy to understand plan, will help calm and focus you.
Write down the people who will be traveling with you, and any special instructions you’ll need to gather everyone together, in case a disaster or emergency occurs while you’re all away from home. Name the location that you and your family will use to meet up with each other and the location you will be evacuating to, if you cannot live in your home, but your immediate area is still safe. Include the address of the location, contact phone, email address and directions.
Next choose a location (writing down the details, address and contact information) that your family will use if you not only need to evacuate your home, but your immediate area or city. This might happen during a moderate hurricane or a tornado. Your third location is out of state, for a serious, widely destructive emergency like the Mexico Earthquake, Hurricane Irma or Maria, the California Wildfires, or other disaster that will make your entire region uninhabitable.
You will also include these locations on your emergency wallet card and your family’s wallet cards. Now, no matter what the disaster, even a fire or local emergency, you and your family will now know where and how to gather, and who will be responsible for what, so you can quickly reunite and travel on to your emergency location together. If you like, you can also give a card to the person you chose to be your out-of-area contact as well.
Will you have any pets traveling with you? Be sure to fill out the pet section, so that you will have all the information you need for them, like the name and numbers for the veterinarian, their licenses, and names/numbers of kennels in the location you are evacuating to and any prescriptions or special instructions you’ll need until you return home.
Your Get Back To Life Plan
The worst part of any disaster, short of losing a loved one, is the possibility that the home you love and care for and everything in it would be damaged beyond repair. That is what your Get Back To Life Plan is all about.
Imagine that you and your family have survived the hurricane, but had to leave your area because it is uninhabitable.
You’re in your evacuation location a week after the waters subside. The phone rings. It’s a good friend of yours, who has just toured your neighborhood and is calling to tell you that your home is badly damaged and he doubts that you will be able to live in it for several months, if ever again.
After you and your family hold each other for a while and talk, you finally feel strong enough to open your Backup Plan Notebook. There you find yourGet Back To Life Planand begin making calls to your insurance agent, your contractor and your boss. You call the local real estate agent in your evacuation city and ask her to begin looking for temporary housing, register your children in the local school, and begin calling the contacts you need (that you jotted down just in case), to help you settle in. Getting settled is easier than you thought, since you have copies of all of the vital documents you need, like your birth certificates and property deeds in a safe deposit box at the local bank. It takes some time, but with hard work and a lot of courage, you and your family are back to living in a matter of weeks.
Now imagine the same scenario, the same phone call, holding your family, talking and then realizing that you have no plan and no clue how to get back to living your life. It’s CNN coverage all over again. The best part of this little scenario is that it hasn’t happened to you and that you have time right now, to make sure no matter what ever occurs in your area, you and your family will be prepared.
Take a few minutes to think about the following questions:
How will we handle our bank accounts, paying our monthly bills and receiving our paychecks? How much emergency cash do we need to have, while traveling?
What are our credit card limits and toll free numbers for emergency increases?
How will we work? Will we work remotely or have to look for new positions? What people or contacts can we call about temporary or permanent jobs?
How will we handle our medical, dental and prescription needs while in the new location? What doctors and dentists can we use while there?
How long can we stay in our evacuation location? If we need to remain evacuated longer, where will we go/stay? Who will our real estate contacts be, if we need to find new permanent or temporary housing?
How are we going to secure the property or vehicles we had to leave behind?
How will we take care of our pets, during the evacuation and until we find new permanent housing?
How will we handle our transportation needs? What contacts will we need to purchase or lease vehicles?
How will we handle our daycare needs? How will we handle getting our children into school if necessary? What schools or contacts will we need, to enroll them in a new school in a temporary or new location?
How will we handle any special needs in our family?
Once you’ve answered the questions, get your family together to work out any potential problems you have uncovered and then draft your plan. And don’t forget to compile a list of real estate agents, financial contacts and jobs, schools, doctors and other professionals or information that you might need to establish yourself in the new city temporarily or permanently.
Starting over is never easy, especially when it happens because of a disaster or other life changing emergency. But taking a few hours now to think through and draft a plan, will give you and your family the direction, information and support that you need, to get through not only the first hours and days after a disaster, but the first steps back to living the life you’ve worked so hard to build.
Have Fun Getting Your Stuff Together! We’ll talk later…
A firefighter knocks on your door. You open it and he tells you that there’s an emergency in the neighborhood affecting your home and that have only 10 minutes to evacuate. Now. And chances are, you won’t be able to set foot in your home for three or more days.
How much money would you need to take care of yourself and your family until you get back home?
Five hundred dollars?
Do you have that much cash in the house?
And even if you do, is it really safe to carry that much cash around with you during a disaster?
Remember the thousands of people fleeing Hurricane Maria, Hurricane Harvey or California’s Camp, Thomas and Mendocino Wildfires? Definitely not!
What you really need are twodifferent things.
A specific amount of cash & ACCESS to your money.
Let’s find out how much you would need to take care of your family…
Grab a pencil and paper and answer the following questions.
If you needed to leave your area due to a disaster evacuation, could you still access money from your bank in a different neighborhood? A different city? A different state?
Do you know how much money you can take out of your primary bank’s ATM at one location? During one 24 hour period?
If you could only use cash on hand for one to three weeks, how much cash would you and your family need to take care of your normal expenses?
Do you know how much credit you have available on your credit cards? Is it possible for you to get an emergency increase? If so, do you know how to get one?
If there was a disaster in your geographical area that affected workplace as well as your home, would you still receive a paycheck from your company? Do you receive you check via direct deposit, via mail or do you physically pick it up?
Well how did you do?
If you’re like most people, you were scratching your head by the second question and running for your statements and calculator by the third.
Here are a few recommendations to make sure that you can access your money, any time and any place that you need it.
Bank Accounts/Access to Cash
Know how much you and your family would most likely need for up to five days and then up to three weeks, without access to your local bank. Here’s a great rule of thumb.
What you usually spend in one week on: Groceries, Pharmacy/Drug Store, Gasoline and your co-payment for two urgent care/doctor/ER visits. Once you have that figure, add 25% more to cover unexpected expenses. An easy way to save the money, is to put away a certain amount every week — let’s say $20, until you meet your goal.
If you live in a disaster prone area, consider keeping a certain amount of cash ($200-400), in a safe at home or in your evacuation location.
Know how much you can take out of the bank per ATM and per day.
Place a copy of a bank statement/check from each bank account and copies of your credit cards and debit cards (front and back) on a password protected flash drive in your emergency bin, in your safe deposit box and in a safe deposit box in your evacuation location.
If that new account won’t be your main account, be sure to deposit a little money in it or make a small ATM withdrawal every few months to keep it active.
Make sure that one of your bank accounts is with a major bank that gives you nationwide access to your money. We’ll get into this more in the next section.
Know your credit limit and the customer service number you would have to call to temporarily raise it. Make sure that you note those limits, customer service numbers and any rules or guidelines on your Vital Information Grab It & Go Form.
If you have more than one credit card or debit card, choose at least two different brands. For example a Visa and a MasterCard or Discover card. That way if one is not accepted at a store or restaurant, the other one probably will be. Going from one restaurant to another with a car full of hungry children, isn’t fun!
The most important part of this exercise is…
Knowing how much money you need to have at your fingertips
Where to keep it, so that you can access even more money quickly and easily.
What About Your Bank?
When you chose your current bank, you probably considered things like their good interest rates, proximity to your home or their friendly tellers.
Making sure that you had 24/7 access to your money in an emergency, wherever you are, probably wasn’t in your top ten criteria. Unfortunately good interest rates and friendly tellers aren’t going to help you feed your children and fill up your gas tank in an unfamiliar town.
Fortunately technology is on your side. Most major brick and mortar and online banks give you access to your money wherever you are in the country. With them, you can bank online, transfer money between accounts or to other people, and even deposit checks into an ATM which can be a huge selling point if that paycheck you’re holding is going to help you exist for the coming week. Another perq is nationwide access to ATMs nationwide or fee rebates if you have to use another bank’s ATM. With a debit card, you can even make purchases or get cash back without a fee, if you can’t find an ATM.
Just remember, if this new account won’t be your main account, be sure to use the ATM card or make a deposit every now and then, so it remains open.
And It’s Not Just About Disasters…
By the way, it doesn’t take a natural disaster for you to need immediate access to your money. What about a medical emergency? You’re in the emergency room and need cash, but the hospital only has one ATM, and it’s not for your bank. Or your car could break down a hundred miles away from home. Or, as we’ve all learned the last several years, banks can be taken over by federal regulators, severely limiting depositor access for days or weeks.
So what’s the moral of the story? Actually we have two.
1. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
2. Make sure you have baskets every place you need them.
Keep these two things in mind when managing your money, and you’ll be in better shape than 95% of your friends. But do me a favor. Once you have things set up for yourself, share what you’ve learned. Your friends will thank you for it.
Picture each item, focusing especially on the items that mean the most to you or have the most monetary value. When you’re done open your eyes. Did you miss anything? If you’re like most people, no matter how certain you were that you remembered everything, you still missed a lot of things that you would want to replace.
And even if you did pretty well, do you know off the top of your head what items were still under warranty, what was insured and for how much? In other words, if this hadn’t been an exercise, but an insurance agent or a police officer writing down a list of your valuables after a burglary or a hurricane, would you have been happy with the list you made?
I didn’t think so.
Memory is a wonderful thing, but it can be affected by many factors, like stress, trauma and fatigue – exactly the things that happen during an emergency. That’s why putting together a list of your treasured or valued objects while they’re sitting in your living room and still in great condition is a MUCH better idea.
And while we’re at it, that reminds me of something else we all have to deal with. I don’t know about you, but to us, it seems like there’s a new cellphone, computer, or gadget of some kind out in the stores every day.
Every time you decide to buy a new one, it comes with more cords and manuals than anyone has room to store. And if you decided to spring for the protection plan too, that hits the mailbox a few days later. With just a few new toys, you can easily end up with a folder full of paper.
Who can keep up with that?
YOU can! And very easily, too. In the Action Steps below, we’re going to create a Home Inventory. Just go through the steps, and decide room by room what items to include. In fact if you have kids or grandkids in the house, this is a great project for them. Once you decide which items to include, send them off on a scavenger hunt, list in hand along with a digital and video camera and have them take photos of each item. Then when they’re done, enter each item along with its information into our downloadable Home Inventory Form, and you’re done.
And if you want a copy of these instructions for later, just Click hereto download the PDF Version.
1. Download Our Home Inventory List
Click here to grab a copy of ourHome Inventory Form, or if you already own our book Ready, you’ll find copies in the book and in the downloadable forms.
2. Grab Your Cameras & A Pencil
Go get your video camera, your digital camera, your list and a pencil and begin walking through each room of your home. Start with the living room, usually home to the most expensive electronic equipment.
3. Document All the Info You Can Find
For each valued item, (electronics, furniture, cars, art, jewelry or any other items that would be expensive to replace or repair), fill in a short description, the manufacturer, serial number and any other information you know about it.
If you have a copy of your warranty information, or original purchase receipts for any of the valued items, note the information on them on the Home Inventory List, then put those documents on the side until Step 6.
4. Your Chance To Play Spielberg
As you stop at each item, take a digital photo of it, to show its current condition. If the item is damaged in a disaster, you’ll have proof of the item’s original condition to give to the claims adjuster. It will also remind you what the item looked like, if it ever needs to be replaced
5. Spielberg Revisited
Once you’re finished with the room, grab your video camera and do a quick video tour. At the beginning of the videotape, clearly state today’s date and the room you’re photographing. And while you’re taping, be sure to show the general condition of the room as well as your valued items.
6. Paperwork, paperwork
Gather all of the warranties, protection plans, certificates of insurance, provenance papers and receipts that you have found, and put them in the same location. It doesn’t matter whether it is a file folder or a section inside your safe. Just make sure that every time you purchase a new item that comes with any of this paperwork, that you put it in the same place.
7. Now for safekeeping…
Print, scan or make three copies of the Home Inventory List, the walking tour photos, the video and the warranties, receipts and other documents that you located earlier and store them in at least three secure, damage-proof locations. That way if one or two of the locations are inaccessible, you’ll still be able to grab the information you need.
And that’s it! Just follow the steps and you’re done. No more having to remember every single thing in your house. Just be sure to update your list every six months. Or if you watch a lot of QVC or HSN, every four months…
Want to download a copy of the instructions for later? Click Hereto download the PDF Version.
Have Fun Getting Your Stuff Together! We’ll talk later…
In the days after September 11th, two thousand, one hundred children were left stranded in daycare.
Because their parents didn’t fill 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?
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 get in the middle of a transportation nightmare and you and your spouse are unable to pick up your child from school that afternoon. Or for two or three days. Who would you want taking care of him?
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.
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 your own medical history card 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 a copy of our book Ready, you’ll find Medical History Forms for you and your kids in the back of the book. If not, you can download a copy of ourChildren’s Medical Formhere.
So grab your form and let’s get started.
Before you begin filling in the form get a piece of paper and gather everything you have for each child on his or her own sheet. You’ll need to include a list of chronic conditions, allergies, medications and vitamins that they have or currently are taking along with dosage. Include a list of all of your child’s health providers including specialists, dentists and any other professional who sees your child on a regular basis.
Now take a moment to sit by yourself in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Close your eyes and imagine each of your children individually, with a moderate injury, like a broken ankle. You’re sitting in the emergency room with him.
The doctor – someone you’ve never seen before and who doesn’t know your child’s unique medical or emotional needs – walks through the door. What would you tell the doctor about your them? What do you need her to know?
Child by child, jot down all of the things that just went through your mind. Old injuries, allergies, surgeries, anything you think is important. Then do the exercise again, imagining that this had been a serious injury. Is there anything else that you would need to tell the doctor or surgeon caring for your child? Anything that might help save his or her life?
Again, jot down any additional things that went through your mind for each of your children.
At the end of our forms, we include a few other questions about your child. 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 So include a brief section on your child’s likes and dislikes, what calms her down, 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.
Since children don’t carry wallets or driver’s licenses, make sure that they have ID cards with current emergency contact information in a few different locations, like in a backpack or tucked into a cell phone or an iPod Touch. And don’t forget to put an ICE Contact (in case of emergency contact) to your children’s iPhones or smartphones. You can find out how to do that right here onour blog.
Taking the steps to ensure your child’s information now, will help keep him safer while giving you a little more peace of mind. Talk about a win-win!
Have Fun Getting Your Stuff Together! We’ll talk later…