Even the most careful and loving parents can't prevent all emergencies. You can and should, therefore, take measures in advance to prepare you to act quickly and effectively should an emergency arise.
Have a list of emergency telephone numbers handy. This can save precious time in any emergency, for you or for anyone else who is caring for your children. We urge you to take this precaution now, while you are thinking about it. Post emergency telephone numbers near every telephone in your home. If there is no 911 emergency service in your area, these numbers should include that of your local hospital for ambulance/paramedic service. Also post numbers for your local fire department, Poison Control Center, police, and your child's doctor and dentist. If your telephones can be programmed to automatically dial certain numbers, program these numbers into the telephones (but keep written lists handy in case a phone becomes unprogrammed).
Designate surrogates who will act in your stead should an emergency arise when you cannot be reached, and include their telephone numbers in the emergency list. Designate adults you trust, perhaps your child's grandparents, perhaps good friends, to make decisions in any emergency involving your child. If you have established a close and caring relationship with your child's health care provider, you might wish to give him or her the legal authority to make any necessary medical decisions involving your child.
Empower your designated surrogates to act for your child by giving them written permission to act for you, such as a limited power of attorney. Your surrogates should keep this important document where it can be found easily if they must respond to an emergency, and you should give copies to your child's physician. Should an occasion ever arise when you cannot be reached immediately, your designated surrogates will be able to act. Written permission from a parent or designated guardian is sometimes required before certain life-saving measures can be taken.
Provide your child with a Medic Alert bracelet if she has a special medical problem, to ensure that she will receive the right care if something happens away from home. If your child is allergic to penicillin or other medication, sulfites, or bee stings, for example, it will enable her to receive prompt and appropriate treatment for an allergic reaction. Without a Medic Alert bracelet, a teenager with diabetes who is suffering from the typical symptoms of low blood sugar could be misdiagnosed as being intoxicated and fail to receive necessary treatment. Medic Alert information is especially important for a young child who may not be able to communicate well, or for any child who has a disorder that can cause the loss of consciousness. Without Medic Alert information, health care personnel could be working in the dark and wasting precious time. Medic Alert is the only emergency medical identification service endorsed by the American College of Emergency Physicians, the American Hospital Association, and every national pharmacy association. For more information, call Medic Alert at 800-432-5378.
Have the primary child-care provider in the family take a good course in emergency first aid that includes infant and childhood Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) (CPR) procedures. We hope that you will never be called upon to use these skills, but there is simply no substitute for the hands-on training and practice in these life-saving techniques that such a course provides.