One of the most important factors in preparing for medical emergencies is to do everything you can to prevent them. Always put safety first by practicing caution and common sense and following safety instructions when given. Take care of yourself by following a sensible diet, exercising regularly and getting an annual physical. Work with your doctor to determine whether you or your family members are at risk for any potentially life-threatening conditions that may be linked to genetics or lifestyle and then follow your doctor's advice in reducing the risk factors.
- Identify and eliminate the safety hazards in your home.
- Buckle up in motor vehicles.
- Never drink and drive.
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
- Wear a helmet and safety pads when bicycling.
- Use recommended safety gear and equipment when participating in sports and recreational activities.
- Don't smoke.
- Develop a plan for medical emergencies - make sure everyone in your family knows what to do in specific circumstances, such as a flood or a fire. (For details, see Family Disaster Preparedness section.)
To prepare for medical emergencies, ACEP also recommends that you:
- Organize your family's medical information. Complete medical history forms on each family member and keep up to date copies in your home, car, first aid kits and wallet. Take the forms you need when you go to the emergency department.
- Complete consent to treat forms for each child. (Separate forms are available for special needs children.) Provide copies to all caregivers (e.g., babysitters, relatives, school nurses, and teachers). This form will allow caregivers to authorize treatment in an emergency situation when you're away from your child.
- Keep well stocked first aid kits in your home and car.
- Post emergency numbers on all your telephones and make sure your children know how to call for help. They should be able to call 911 or the local emergency number, and give their names, address, and a brief description of the problem. Always leave your written contact phone number(s), including your cell phone number, with any temporary caregivers to give to the emergency department staff. This may help an emergency physician get important information quickly about your child's health.
- Take a first aid class and learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Your local hospital, American Red Cross or American Heart Association may conduct courses in your area or can guide you to organizations that do offer training.
- Learn the warning signs of medical emergencies, and seek emergency care when they occur.