30 million children need emergency care each year.
They can't all belong to someone else.
Emergencies happen. It could be a fall from a bike...a sudden high fever or seizure...a pot knocked from the stove. What if your child started choking during dinner? What if she was stung by a bee and suddenly couldn't breathe? Would you know what to do?
The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that an emergency exists if you think your child could die or suffer permanent harm unless care is received right away. Most parents feel they are prepared for emergencies because they know when and how to call 9-1-1. But often, that isn't enough. Your child may need care before emergency medical service personnel arrive. And being prepared can assure your child isn't further harmed by doing the wrong thing. The Emergency Medical Services for Children, a program of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, has 10 tips to help you be better prepared...because no matter how hard you try to protect your children-emergencies happen.
1. CHECK IF 9-1-1 IS THE RIGHT NUMBER TO CALL. Some areas of the country do not have 9-1-1. Others have E-9-1- 1 where your address is automatically stored in a database. Make sure you know what's available where you live and work.
2. KEEP A WELL-STOCKED FIRST-AID KIT ON HAND. From minor cuts and bruises to sunburn and sprains, a good first-aid kit is a great first line of defense. To learn what makes a good first-aid kit, contact your health care provider, local pharmacy or the American Red Cross.
3. MAKE A LIST OF EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBERS. Write down the numbers you need in a family emergency plan that is easy to access at all times.
4. TEACH YOUR CHILDREN WHO TO CALL AND WHAT TO SAY. Make sure your children know where the phone numbers are for emergency help and poison control. If they call 9-1-1, the operator will ask, "Fire, Police or Ambulance/Rescue?" Tell your child to stay on the line while the call is transferred. When the appropriate agency picks up, the emergency operator will ask for name, address, telephone number and details. He or she will want to know what has happened, when it happened, where it happened and who is involved. Teach your child not to hang up unless told to do so. The emergency operator may be able to offer help over the phone.
5. MAKE SURE YOUR HOUSE NUMBER IS VISIBLE FROM THE STREET. Make it easy for police, fire officials or emergency medical personnel to find your house. Put large house numbers in a highly visible area. Make sure the numbers are well-lit and can be seen at night. Make sure they can be seen from the street in either direction.
6. KEEP A CLEAR AND UP-TO-DATE RECORD OF IMMUNIZATIONS. This can help doctors do a better job of diagnosing a problem in an emergency. For example, if your child has a bad infection, and the doctor knows your child has been vaccinated against Hepatitis, the doctor can rule that out. This can save time.
7. WRITE DOWN MEDICAL CONDITIONS, MEDICATIONS AND DOSAGES. Develop an emergency plan to hold all important information, including numbers and medical history. Being prepared in advance can help assure proper treatment and prevent serious drug interactions.
8. MAKE A LIST OF ALLERGIES AND REACTIONS. The emergency plan should also include a place to write this information down. It will help ensure that health care professionals don't use medicines that can hurt your child. And, it might help emergency medical personnel find a reason for problems such as seizures or shortness of breath. If any of your children have severe drug allergies or chronic conditions, we recommend they wear Medical I.D. bracelets.
9. IF YOU HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE, CHECK YOUR EMERGENCY COVERAGE. Check your policy in advance. Some insurance companies require that you call first for approval. Make sure you understand your policy, and carry all necessary cards and phone numbers with you.
10. TAKE FIRST-AID CLASSES. A basic class will teach CPR and proper ways to treat burns, wrap sprains, apply splints and perform the Heimlich maneuver. Remember, if you take time now, you won't lose precious time when your child's life could depend on it. It's a good idea to ask everyone who takes care of your children to take these classes, including babysitters, relatives and day care providers. Your pediatrician, local hospital, fire department and local chapter of the Red Cross can tell you about classes.
To get a free brochure and emergency plan, call 1-888-ASK-HRSA