You think this will never happen to you. There’s an emergency and your child needs to go to the ER right now. You tell yourself this can’t be happening. Your stomach is in a swelling pit of knots and you’re about to burst into tears. Then you stop and pull yourself together because the most important person in the world needs your help. The adrenaline rushes and you’re out the door.Parenthood has its frightening moments, especially during one of these harrowing experiences. Click To Tweet
That’s why you always need to be prepared for emergencies.
As a parent, the worrying never ends. I really thought I was done with childhood ERs and then my six-week-old grandson was rushed to the hospital. I watched my daughter go through the fear and the worry, just as I had. Her mommy instincts kicked in and she did everything right. Everything I had taught her to do.
My beautiful grandson is home and well. It was scary but he’s a fighter. That’s why I call him my little warrior.
This story could have gone another way. But it didn’t because my daughter acted quickly. That’s why I want to share, with love, my best suggestions on what to do and what to expect if this ever happens to you.
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Prepared for Emergencies
It’s rare for children to become seriously ill without some kind of warning, but it does happen. Sometimes it’s a childhood illness or infection such as pneumonia, bronchitis or asthma. Choking, Abdominal pain, swallowing or coming in contact with a poisonous substance. Injuries such as burns or a head concussion from a fall. Then there are playground or sports injuries. In our case it was respiratory, labored breathing, low oxygen and chest retractions.
Whatever it is, your quick action is important. Being prepared for emergencies is one of the best things you can do for your children and other children in your care.
Take a CPR and first aid class. Take refreshers every year. Have family and caretakers do the same.
In case of any kind of emergency, do the following:
- Stay calm.
- Start CPR if your child is not responsive.
- Give rescue breaths if your child is not breathing.
- Call 911 if you need immediate help.
- Apply continuous pressure to the site of bleeding with a clean cloth.
- Place your child on the floor with head and body turned to the side if having a seizure. Do not put anything into the mouth.
- Do not move your injured child unless there is in immediate danger (e.g. from a fire).
- If your child has trouble breathing, go right to the ER. Or call an ambulance. (Don’t drive yourself.) The paramedics can deliver oxygen and get your child safely to the hospital.
- Stay with your child until help arrives.
- Bring any medicine your child is taking with you to the hospital. Also, bring suspected poisons or other medicines your child might have taken.
- After you arrive at the ER, make sure you tell emergency staff the name of your child’s doctor. Your child’s doctor can work closely with emergency department doctors and nurses and can provide them with more information about your child.
Emergency Contact Information
It’s imperative other family members and babysitters know what to do and react quickly in case of an emergency. This means ensuring that everyone has or knows where to find your list of emergency contacts. It’s essential information to read and have on hand.
Adhere the list of emergency phone numbers to your fridge or home organization board. You can also place it in a see-through shadow box or frame (so it won’t get torn or smudged) for easy access so that you don’t have to go searching for it in case of an emergency. Being prepared for emergencies means thinking ahead and being organized.
Here’s what your emergency contact information list should include:
- Your local emergency service (911 in many areas).
- The nearest hospital emergency room with the address.
- Police and fire departments in your area.
- Your address and the nearest intersection, in case you’ve got a new or temporary babysitter who has to relay information to emergency dispatchers.
- Your pediatrician or family practitioner.
- Two nearby friends who can be called upon to help.
- The Poison Control Center (800-222-1222, or to locate the center nearest you).American Association of Poison Control Centers.
Essential Information about Your Child
Besides having a list of emergency contact numbers, it’s smart to also have essential information about your child handy . Again, for other family members or caregivers to have. You can keep this list on the fridge, your diaper bag, or the other places discussed above. You can even just email it to anyone who takes care of your child without you present.
Be extra prepared for emergencies, by creating the following list today:
In an envelope have a copy of the front and back of your children’s or family health insurance cards, a copy of your ID, note blood type, Include $40 for a just- in-case cab ride and a copy of the emergency contact information.
- Your baby’s first and last name.
- Date of birth.
- Medical history, such as asthma, heart problems, and allergies.
- Names of any medications your child is taking.
- Immunization history.
- Both parents’ names.
- Your home, work, and cellphone numbers.
- The pediatrician’s name and phone number.
Preparing to go to the ER
In life-threatening situations, you may not have time to prepare for the trip to the ER. You may be waiting with your child for an ambulance or rushing your child to the hospital yourself. However, some medical emergencies allow a little more time for you to prepare for the trip to the hospital.
You may end up spending quite some time at the ER or hospital, so gather together the following items before you depart, if you’re able to:
- Any medications that your child is taking (write down information or take along the actual bottle).
- A favorite book, blanket, or stuffed animal to help your child feel more at ease while at the hospital.
- A change of clothes and a toothbrush for your child and for yourself (you both might stay overnight and this will ensure your comfort).
- Chargers for your cell phone so you can stay in touch with family members or caregivers watching your other children at home.
- Health insurance card.
- Medical history information (the list of essential information about your child provided above is excellent).
What to Expect at the ER
Unfortunately, there is no way to predict how long your wait at the ER will be. However, if your child has a severe medical condition, you’ll likely be seen right away. Chances are, you might be spending quite some time at the hospital so prepare yourself. Things to keep in mind are getting by with limited sleep and what to do for meals.
Upon arrival at the ER, your child will be seen by a nurse or a doctor (depending on the severity of the condition). You’ll be asked about their symptoms while their vital signs are checked. This quick assessment called triage will give the nurse or doctor the information they need about how to proceed. Be ready to answer any questions quickly and provide as much information as you possibly can.
You’ll also likely be required to go through a registration process. During this process, you’ll be asked to sign consent for treatment forms and produce your health insurance membership card. This will probably happen when you arrive at the ER (before your child is seen) or after triage in case of a severe emergency.
The whole experience can feel like a blur because you’re stressed and worried about your child and because things tend to move fast in the ER. Also, different doctors may be in and out of your room and offer different kinds of management. To keep track of everything take a notebook and a pen with you and jot down important information such as:
- The names of the doctor(s) who attend your child.
- What they say about the illness or injury.
- Any medicines or treatment they give your child.
- Directions for follow-up or care at home.
When Staying Over at the Hospital
Depending on the situation, you and your baby may need to spend the night at the hospital. Many medical professionals like to monitor infants over a period of time to ensure that the treatment is working and the child is stable before being discharged. This can be helpful for your peace of mind as well. But the logistics of spending the night at the hospital can make things tricky (because mama, I know you won’t want to leave your baby’s side).
Call Your Life Line
Now is the time to reach out to your support system. The helpers in your life. Whether it’s your spouse, your mom, your sister, a friend, or all of the above. You’re going to need support, so reach out. If you’re at the ER alone with your child, call your helpers to let them know what’s going on. You’re going to be exhausted, emotional, and unable to attend to certain things while you’re at your child’s side.
The people in your support system can assist you with the following things:
- Looking after your other children and pets at home so that you don’t have to leave.
- Bringing you food to the hospital so that you don’t have to skip meals and have the energy to sustain yourself through the night.
- Bringing you a change of clothes or something else essential that you forgot at home in the rush to get to the ER.
- Coming to keep you company or spend some time by your child’s side so that you can get some sleep (either in the hospital or at home).
- Provide emotional support for you and ask questions that you may not have thought about.
Rushing your child to the emergency room is usually an unexpected and extremely scary situation. Because of this, you may not feel prepared for emergencies at all. You’ll likely forget something important, worry about your other kids, not eat or sleep for hours and just feel like a mess.
This is completely normal and totally understandable. None of us can be fully prepared for emergencies; especially when it comes to our children. But by taking the time to create important lists, information, gathering your support team and taking classes, you’ll, at the very least, feel slightly more prepared for emergencies in case something does happen.
Nobody ever wants to deal with a childhood emergency. Most of us don’t even want to think that our child could have an emergency. But they do happen. And trust me, it’s so much better to be prepared for emergencies.
Use this guide to prepare yourself for the unexpected so that you know exactly what to do in case this happens to you.
Do you feel prepared for emergencies if your child needs help?
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