However, when it comes to a serious medical emergency, a staggering number of parents are NOT ready with a plan. The national "Ready for Emergencies" survey conducted last month by EmergencyLink revealed that while 92% of Americans believe it's important to be prepared for an emergency, almost the same amount (89%) don’t take the basic step of having an emergency contact listed in their wallet or phone. Even more alarming, while parents as a group reported being more prepared for an emergency than the national average, half of parents don’t have emergency contact information on them, in their wallet or phone.
Accidents happen all the time, especially to kids. Instead of holding on to the leash, here are 5 simple steps parents can take to prepare for accidents before they happen:
1. Put all emergency information in one secure place
In an emergency things move fast. You’re often stressed out and highly emotional and the last thing you want to do is hunt down documents like identification, insurance paperwork and medical history. The best thing to do is to upload these documents electronically and store them in one place so they are there when you need them.
2. Make sure the right people have the right information
You may have your spouse or your parents listed on forms as your “in case of emergency” contact, but if an emergency responder finds you unconscious do your emergency contacts know everything they should? They may know your allergies and can take care of the kids, but do they know where to find your important documents and the names of the medications you take and dosages? Make sure they have everything they need in advance, and keep them up to date on any changes.
3. Put emergency information everywhere – on backpacks, sneakers, keychains…etc.
If your kids are at a summer camp, at a friend’s house or with the grandparents, you want to be contacted as quickly as possible if something happens. Keeping emergency contact information on your kids and their belongings ensures that you’ll be contacted if there’s an emergency.
4. Add ICE (In Case of Emergency) information to phones
Labeling a contact in your phone as ICE (followed by their name) indicates to emergency responders who your emergency contact person is. Emergency responders are trained to look for ICE information and by having this added to your contact list it will allow for your emergency contact(s) to be quickly contacted.
5. Understand how to file a missing person’s report
While the first hour is the most crucial for a child’s safe return, it often takes parents more than three hours to gather the critical information needed to put out a report. Finding out how to file a missing person’s report and gathering the pertinent information needed is a good way to prepare for the worst-case scenario.
“It’s important to find a system that gives you peace of mind,” said, busy mom and executive, Amy Langer. “I make sure I have a secure place for all of my data, and that I’m able to share it with the people I trust. It is not always easy to talk about ‘what if something happens’ but as a wife, mom, daughter and business owner, I feel like I owe it to those around me to be prepared for an emergency. Setting up a plan in advance has given me the opportunity to feel secure in the event of an emergency, and have more effective talks with my family about what to do in different types of situations.”
All it takes is a little planning. Too many parents make the mistake of thinking that they are prepared by having band-aids and disinfectant wipes in their bag. I encourage you to get a plan in place now; don’t wait until it’s too late. I am the CEO of EmergencyLink.com and I invite you to sign up in order to check off each of the boxes above. My goal is to make sure that you have everything you need so you can feel secure and prepared for any emergency situation.
Michael Soenen is the Chairman and CEO of EmergencyLink, the free medical ID network which makes it easy for anyone to be prepared for an emergency. Before founding EmergencyLink, Michael served as chairman of the board of directors, president and CEO of FTD Group, Inc., a leading provider of floral and specialty gift products and services to consumers and retail florists. He began at FTD in 1997 as vice president of marketing, and saw the company through their acquisition as CEO in 2008.