“Don’t climb the furniture!” Those were the last words I uttered from my dozing state on the couch. What came next was a thud and my daughter’s screams ripping through the quiet of our post-school afternoon. My heart still races as I replay the picture in my mind. My husband pulled back the love-seat where my girl lay trapped in a heap on the floor. That first glimpse of her very broken arm is forever etched in my brain. I see the disfigured arm, hear her cries of pain, and I squeeze my eyes closed, begging the memory to retreat.
Before you rush off to purchase your bubble wrap, let’s get real. Accidents happen to kids. Trouble will find them because kids are trouble. The younger ones are like tiny drunks staggering around on newly-walking feet. They are just begging the corner of the coffee table to give them a nice little notch in their forehead. The older ones are a dangerous combination of fearless and (forgive me) stupid, thanks to a brain that is not even close to fully developed. Whether it’s on the playground, at school, or in the comfort of your own home, I’m sad to report that a serious injury will probably befall your sweet one at some point during childhood. While absolutely terrifying to think about, you can prepare yourself and go into an accident with some knowledge that will make the process go a little more smoothly. Be it stitches, a broken bone, or a knock to the head, follow these four tips to help ease your mom-heart during a time of crisis.
1. Keep an emergency bag in your car. If you are faced with an emergency that could keep you overnight in the hospital or even several hours at the ER, there are a few things that can bring you and your kiddo some relief. Grab any type of travel bag and throw in a change of clothes for you, your spouse, and each child. Toothbrushes, toothpaste, face wash, combs, and hair ties are items that will make you feel far more human if you find yourself whisked away from home indefinitely. Throwing in a small stuffed animal might be just what your injured one needs during a scary time. Keep this bag in your car and hopefully the most you’ll need it for is a really dirty play-date at the park.
2. Keep your insurance app on your phone. Most insurance companies now have apps for your smartphone. The app will provide a picture of the front and back of your insurance card. In the event of an emergency, you’ll likely fly into the ER, holding your child and phone. It is a lot easier to hand the front desk your phone to get the necessary insurance information while wrangling a hysterical kid. They can send someone to get the hard copy from your wallet once you’ve settled into a room and efforts have been made to calm your patient.
3. Create an emergency call list. When an event of this magnitude strikes, you have people you want to contact. Chances are, your injured child is not going to settle down so that you can make the rounds on your phone from the ER. And honestly, you’re going to need to focus all of your (very positive) attention on him or her in the moment. They need you. Designate one family member or friend as your “messenger.” Give the messenger a list of people you want contacted in the event of an emergency. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbors, and teachers are all good ideas for your list. Once the accident goes down, shoot a quick text or call to your messenger. This person will then contact everyone on your list and continue to give them updates throughout the ordeal. You can even ask one or two people to be on-call in case you need childcare for any siblings during an emergency. The messenger can let your on-call person(s) know your situation and set up sibling pick-up for you and leave you to tend to bigger matters.
4. Keep a medical information list in your car. Two different nurses emphasized to me how important it is to keep written medical information on your family. Create a folder that holds information such as allergies, medication taken, and medical history for each family member. This folder can be kept with your emergency bag. The bigger the injury, the larger the number of medical professionals involved. You will be asked the same questions by multiple people. If there is anything that keeps you from being able to answer questions about allergies or medications, such as shock or a quick trip to the bathroom, the list will contain everything a nurse or surgeon would need to know about your child. You can also keep a copy of the list in your home in an easy-to-grab location, on the chance that your child is transported by ambulance.
There doesn’t seem to be a limit to the things moms have to plan and prepare for. Isn’t meal-planning and the occasional family vacation enough? Though we all shutter at the thought of a hurt child, you will absolutely pat yourself on the back if you go into an emergency with an offensive strategy. Being knowledgeable and confident in a time of crisis will free you up to carry your little one through a terrifying ordeal. Yes, you will still have a good cry in the bathroom and struggle to fight back that nasty mom-guilt. But taking time now to arm yourself for what could be will empower you and show your kids how tough us moms really are.
What are ways you prepare for an emergency?