September is National Preparedness Month in the U.S. Obviously, you can’t plan for emergencies, but you can be organised and prepared for emergencies. And, unfortunately, a few summers ago, I spent quite a bit of time in hospital waiting rooms and I came up with some organisational tips that will help keep you prepared for these unplanned events.
Keep your first aid kit up to date. Ensure your antibiotic creams have not expired. Make sure your supply of bandages is replenished regularly. Keep an assortment of bandages on hand such as those for knuckles, fingertips and large scrapes. You can use clean feminine protection products or diapers to stop the bleeding of larger wounds so consider keeping a few of each in your first aid kit.
Are your first aid techniques up-to-date, too? While you may not need to know how to put on a tourniquet, you should be able to give correct treatment for cuts, scrapes, burns, strains, sprains, fractures, and animal bites. St. John’s Ambulance and the Red Cross offer first aid courses, and classes may also be available through a local community center or department of health.
Keep your pantry stocked with ingredients for healthy meals you can make in less than 30 minutes. These things can include:
- frozen casseroles;
- frozen or canned vegetables;
- frozen or canned fruits;
- spaghetti (an all time favourite);
- chicken strips;
- fish sticks.
Keep a stash of healthy snacks you can quickly toss in a bag and take with you such as:
- juice or milk in tetra pacs;
- frozen muffins;
- granola or cereal bars;
- bite-sized cereals (wheat squares, oat rings, etc);
- raw vegetables (mini carrots, cauliflower, broccoli);
- fruits (bananas, apples, pears, grapes);
You may want to keep a small cutlery set in your purse or backpack just in case you need to cut things into pieces.
Keep a few ice packs in the freezer for applying to injuries and for stuffing in a bag to cool your snacks during the long wait at an Emergency Room and/or Walk-in Clinic.
Carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you because you may sitting at the hospital with sick people.
Have an “entertainment pack” ready to go. Items that can be included are:
- a deck of cards;
- portable gaming devices and their chargers;
- some books;
- a pack of crayons and colouring books;
- a favourite stuffed animal or blankie.
Make sure you know whom to contact at your spouse’s/partner’s office should he/she be injured.
Have a friend or neighbour you can call on in a crisis to come and mind the kids in the middle of the night. Offer to return the favour.
Make sure your car has enough gas to handle an emergency, such as driving to the hospital in the middle of the night. Keep at least $20 cash in small bills in a secret place in your wallet or in your car in case you have to pay for a taxi or for parking in a cash-only car park.
Do laundry regularly so you have clean clothes handy. If you’ve been called to the emergency room, take a change of clean clothes for the injured person. The emergency room nurses may have had to cut the injured person’s clothing to remove it.
Ensure parents and caregivers have copies of heath services registration numbers and health insurance numbers. Store this information in a secure file in your smartphone or carry a copy in your wallet. Children should also know where to find copies of this information and, if they are old enough, have a copy stored on their smartphones. Keep your cell phone charged in case you are out and need to call 911. Program an emergency contact number into your cell phone so someone can dial that number if you can’t do it yourself. Label it “!Emergency!” so it is on the top of your contact list and “In Case of Emergency” since that is another contact someone might look for on your phone.
If you go for a run or bike ride, take your health insurance information and identification with you. Print business cards with contact information on them (names, address, phone number and email address) to put in every backpack and wallet, including the kids’ bags and backpacks. Consider registering with ROAD ID. It is an easy way to carry identification and medical information with you at all times. Anywhere in the world, first responders can access your medical information and emergency contacts.
Although I hope you never have to go through a crisis, by following these organisational steps, you’ll be able to survive with much less stress.