It’s always a good time to be prepared, ready and organized when it comes to first aid for children. No need to wait until New Year’s Day rolls around to make resolutions and promises. Taking action can be a satisfying and effective route to peace of mind and a sense of achievement when it comes to family safety.
I’m a big believer in being ready for certain things that scare me as a parent. No one likes the stress and fear that come along with a negatively framed “what if…?” question that arises in their mind. We can’t prepare for every eventuality, but we can definitely take some simple steps to attend to the emergency foundation of our family life: knowledge, supplies and documents. To be prepared is a positive response to worrisome negative thinking.
Actor Will Smith has a clever phrase he has repeated as a kind of guidepost for leading his life,
If you stay ready, you ain’t got to get ready.
I think this perspective works well for families who value peace of mind and want to be prepared for accidents and family emergencies.
Here are my top 5 tips to help you take a few concrete steps to be prepared, ready and organized all year long for emergency family situations. Taking action through these 5 steps can reduce your parental stress and fears in your busy, day-to-day parenting life.
1. Take a First Aid Course
Have you ever taken a first aid course? There are courses specially designed for parents as well as for the general public and other special interest groups. In fact, I recently updated my first aid certification through a course delivered and designed by Healthy and Safe Away From Home for teachers living in Switzerland. It was fabulous and gave me renewed confidence that I can handle whatever accident could happen to a child under my supervision or adult with whom I work.
When I became a new mother in Canada years ago, the first thing I did was take an Emergency Childcare First Aid & CPR class through the Canadian Red Cross because as a teacher, specific infant and toddler information had not been covered in the teacher training. After my infant and childcare first aid course, I felt prepared to respond appropriately to a variety of critical situations that could come up while raising my newborn child.
The knowledge covered in a professional, reputable first aid course is only one part of the equation. The practical application is the critical piece that you simply can’t get from limiting your learning to an online resource or first aid book. It’s all theory until you actually have to DO something to save an infant, child or adult’s life. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be up-to-date in your first aid understanding with an in-person, hands-on certification training. Ideally, you would re-take a course every 1-2 years to ensure your knowledge and skills are current.
2. Create (or update) your First Aid Kits
Having a first aid kit that you buy or create is essential. I have one in my classroom desk, a mini one in my home bathroom, a standard one at our main family entrance in our home and one in the trunk of the family car. The one in the bathroom is really a storage place for extra bandages in a variety sizes and shapes, extra gauze and clean fabric for excessive bleeding. Here is a list of common accidents among children.
You just never know when mild to severe bleeding will occur from cuts in the kitchen, during playtime or through accidental falls. Not to mention, bites and stings from insects and other creatures. In some parts of the world, a first aid kit may be lacking essentials you need for living in the region. For example, in the part of Switzerland I live in with my family, the forests and grassy areas are known for ticks. In other words, I need a tool to safely and quickly remove a tick embedded in skin to reduce the chance of tick-borne diseases.
Another great reason to take an in-person first aid course in the area of the world in which you live is to get professional inside information about the unique emergency risks in the region. You may find that you need to add some items to your homemade or purchased first aid kit. Once in place, it’s simply a matter of updating the contents of your first aid kit every time you use or deplete an item.
3. Make an Emergency Binder
The truth is, I never had an emergency binder until I decided to live a global lifestyle with my family by living outside of our home country. In the past, I maintained all of our documents in a metal filing cabinet and some were in a fire-proof safe in the house. Although I still think that my old way of organizing has it’s merits, I do think I’ve benefited from adding an emergency binder to my home emergency systems.
In the event of an emergency in which you wish to leave your home quickly, having an emergency binder is a great way to help you stay focused in a time of high stress as you swiftly take essential documents with you. No one has time to frantically flip through numerous files in the filing cabinet for important documents during an emergency situation. An emergency binder can reduce the overwhelm of knowing what to take during a rapid emergency departure from your home.
Although you can find many places on the internet explaining how to create your own emergency binder, I personally chose to purchase a mine from Securitas, Inc. The one I use is The Vital Records PortaVault®. It is basically a binder that has all you need to organize essential documents and small items such as keys, cash, discs and USB sticks into a binder that you can take with you during a quick exit. It has met my needs well during international moves with my family and is a great shortcut resource for doubling as our emergency binder. If you have a large fire-proof safe in which to store the binder(s) for your family members, even better!
4. Systematize Your Document Storage
Filing cabinets are a common organizing tools for paper documents in many countries. One tedious exercise I have never enjoyed is keeping my files up to date and ready to work with at all times. Effective organized filing requires a consistent system that works anytime and all the time. If you already have a system that works for you and keeps your files tidy and highly organized year-round – congratulations! You’re ready to instantly find documents that an organization or individual might require: hospitals, insurance companies, lawyers, educational institutions, etc.
If you’re more like me, and you could use a little support with every day simplicity in organization, then consider the short-cut I use. For documents that are not held in my emergency binder, I’m a fan of the The FreedomFiler® filing system. Again, it’s a product created for people like me who want to focus more time and attention on more enjoyable aspects of life but still want to have files organized and ready for effective use year-round. The time I have saved from reorganizing and shredding unnecessary documents with this tool has been worth a lot to me. I feel ready to quickly and effectively deal with whatever documentation an unexpected family emergency may require.
5. Prepare Bags, Pockets & Wallets
This tip is often overlooked in our busy lives. If your child is alone when an accident happens or if they are too young or unable to tell vital information to emergency first response people, then you need to ensure you have a Plan B. This scenario is not only important to consider for each of your children, but for you and your other family members as well.
In my case, I carry my child and husband’s information in my wallet in case I’m called and need to provide critical information. You could have your child carry a wallet-sized card with information in a small pocket on their backpack or even in a wallet if they are older. I don’t think you should put your child’s address or last name on an emergency wallet card. For many parents, simply noting the child’s first name, emergency contact numbers and vital, life-saving medical information is sufficient.
Some examples of what is important for emergency response personnel to know are: blood type, allergies, preexisting medical conditions and medications taken. In addition, noting the medical insurance company information may or may not be necessary depending on the country you live in. Once again, you can create and customize your own wallet cards to meet your family member’s unique needs or find something available online to download and print such as this one or this one. Do make a note that “911” is not the emergency number in all countries. If you live abroad, ensure that you post the relevant emergency numbers for your country of residence someplace obvious in your home. And show everyone in the family!
Do you have other valuable tips and resources to share on first aid for children? Please leave a note in the comments below!