Monday, March 17, 2014

In Case of Emergency: Five Tools to Help Your Prepare

As parents, we don't like to think about the emergencies that might pop up. However, if we take some time to think through potential situations and make some basic advance preparations, we will be better positioned to handle these situations when they happen. 

Like last month when we were on our way home from my sons weekly tutoring session. My daughter, who plays while her brother has his session, had gotten a goodie bag filled with chocolates and candy hearts that was left over from a party at the center. During the ride home, Carlie sweetly shared a candy conversation heart from her little goodie bag with her three year old brother who was sitting in the car seat beside her. 

As we were pulling into the neighborhood, Carlie exclaimed, "Mommy, Joey is choking!"
I looked in the rearview mirror to see Joey coughing and gagging. I pulled into the drive, quickly parked the car, and got him out of his car seat. He was breathing, gagging and spitting up a bit. He was clearly uncomfortable and trying to cough the candy up. I attempted to do the Heimlich and called 911. With the sense that everything was going to be okay, but worried nonetheless, I tried to comfort my little guy while we anxiously waited for the paramedics. 

It did not take long for a fire truck and EMS vehicle to pull into the drive. Several guys jumped out and came to the door. As the paramedics asked me questions and assessed my son, the candy finally dislodged and went down. Joey quickly calmed down and was excited to see the fire truck parked in front of our house. He was very interested in the firemen and paramedics, who were very sweet. By this time, my parents and husband had arrived on the scene. We decided he was ok and turned down the trip to the ER. What a relief.

This incident was a reminder of how quickly an emergency can pop up. I was thankful my daughter knew the signs of choking and could alert me. Basic CPR/First aid training helped me to remain calm. Being prepared really does help. 

Today, I'm going to share five tools to help you in case of emergency. 

1. Smart 9/11

Smart911 is a free service that allows citizens across the U.S. to create a Safety Profile for their household that includes any information they want 9-1-1 to have in the event of an emergency. Then, when anyone in that household dials 9-1-1 from a phone associated with their Safety Profile, their profile is immediately displayed to the 9-1-1 call taker providing additional information that can be used to facilitate the proper response to the proper location. At a time when seconds count, being able to provide 9-1-1 with all details that could impact response the second an emergency call is placed could be the difference between life and death. You can sign up at It takes about ten minutes.

Smart911 is also very helpful to families who have a member with a developmental disability

9-1-1 telecommunicators play a key role in figuring out the type of emergency that is occurring and determining the proper staff and equipment needed in the particular situation. Smart911 can let 9-1-1 operators know that there is a person with a disability at your home, communicate the specific details about the person's condition and needs, and ascertain if the response may require very specific actions. 

If a person with a developmental disability dials 9-1-1, but is not able to speak with the call taker, that can be noted in their profile. Call takers will see each person's specific medical notes and can dispatch teams appropriately based on their needs.
If a person with a developmental disability dials 9-1-1 for assistance, but does not have the ability to clearly relay specific information to 9-1-1 — such as their name, address or details of their emergency — that information can all be stored within their profile. Additionally, an emergency contact can be listed for this person as well.

2. Guardian

The Guardianthe world’s first cloud computing safety network for children, is a tracking device for your child that can be clipped on his or her clothes or hung on a necklace. As long as your child is wearing the device, you can see their exact whereabouts on your smart phone through the corresponding app. 

All parents know what it’s like taking children to parks, malls and amusement parks. With all the people around, sometimes it’s quite nerve-racking trying to keep an eye on your children while they’re running about. For those of us who have a "runner," this device can be life saving. 
The app alerts you if your child wanders out of the perimeter you set. Parents can also add trusted ones, such as neighbors, teachers, nannies and relatives, to their group as co-guardians, so that more people can help keep an eye on the little ones.
The more people who install the app, the more watertight the network becomes. Here's why: If a child is found missing, parents can immediately launch a global search. When the child in question passes by a person using Guardian app, the cloud system immediately sends the location to the parents. When the lost child passes by a user of the Guardian app, only the parents of the lost child and anyone else the parents chose to include as co-guardians are notified. The user does not know about it. I'm really excited about this tool for keeping track of my son in public places as he has a way of squirming away from us!
3. Evernote

My third tool is also an app. Evernote is a notebook app for your computer and mobile devices. The apps syncs between devices so all your information travels with you. In my Evernote, I have created a family health notebook where I keep track of what medications each person is on or has been on and other details I need to know when going to doctor's offices or in an emergency.

4. Family Emergency Notebook

Next, I have an actual emergency notebook in our house that has profiles on each family member, including a recent picture, finger prints, health information, important papers, etc. Should we have to evacuate in a hurry, I can grab this notebook and have all of our important information with us.

The notebook includes:
  • Personal ID sheets for each person and pet in the house
  • Birth certificates
  • Immunization records  
  • Passports
  • Social security cards
  • Allergies or health information
  • Important information overview sheet, including:
    • Our address and phone numbers
    • Essential info for every member of our family (name, DOB, allergies)
    • Phone numbers to all our insurance companies along with the insurance policy numbers (car, life, health etc)
    • Other important emergency numbers (poison control, 24 hr nurse line, gas company, plumber, etc)
    • Our doctor’s phone numbers.
    • My husband’s family’s numbers (parents, siblings, grandparents)
    • My family’s numbers
    • Local friend’s numbers
    • Non-local friend’s numbers
    • Other important numbers
  • A written copy of all our log-in information for our various online accounts including banks, insurance, cell phone, school loans, Facebook, email etc.  
  • Property titles (homes, autos, boats etc)
  • Insurance policies
  • Copy of car registration
  • Will
  • Medical directive
  • Marriage License
  • Written Home inventory (and a DVD of a video inventory)
  • Map of the area, with meeting locations marked
5. Emergency Car Kit

Finally, an emergency kit in your car is a helpful tool in case of bad weather or a break down. Here is a post I wrote about car kit essentials.

I hope these ideas help you in case of emergency! Please share your tips below in comments. I'd love to hear how you prepare for emergencies.

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