Logan, my three year old, has some tricky health issues. Earlier this year, we had been managing his pneumonia symptoms at home for nearly two weeks. Out of nowhere though, he spiked a 103-degree fever, became totally lethargic, and, not to sound cliche, scared the daylights out of us.
Since it was after 5 p.m. on a weekend, our only option was to take him to the ER. It was during this trip that I came to the bittersweet realization that I was much more prepared for an overnight stay in the hospital than I had ever been before.
I know there are times when life can take unexpected turns. Kids have ways of injuring themselves at the most inopportune moments. You’re never totally ready for them to take that headfirst tumble out of the shopping cart or get whiplash during a naptime nightmare (both actual incidents from our family’s ER file). Some of you may even have older kids who are athletes and have found yourself completely unprepared to rush an injured kid to the hospital. And as we are now immersed into cold and flu season, many of us will have to go to the hospital with sick kids that we have been trying to take care of from home for days.
I’ve been there. I know how frantic it can feel when you are rushing your child to the ER. With that said, I want to share some things that I’ve found helpful these past few years through all of our hospital stays:
Have a detailed, up-to-date list of your child’s medications.
I like to take a picture of the prescription label and keep it in a folder in my phone so that I know exactly which inhaler or vitamins and which strengths my kids are taking. This is one of the first questions the ER staff will ask you, and it is good to be prepared!
Also, for those situations where you are managing a child’s symptoms at home (i.e. fevers, stomach flu, etc.), it is important to know what time you gave your child over-the-counter medications like Tylenol or Ibuprofen. My husband and I are in the habit of keeping a list with our child’s name, medication, and time given, so we don’t lose track. We sometimes text each other the same info (“Just gave Logan 5 ml Tylenol, fever was 102.3”) because our phones will keep track of the days/times of the messages. Find what works for you and stick to it!
Keep a spare change of clothes in your car.
It is good practice to put a clean change of clothes (shirt, shorts/pants depending on season, undies, socks, diapers?) in your car for every member of your family. Use Ziploc bags to keep outfits separate, and label each with a Sharpie. This can come in handy for non-emergency reasons as well, such as when your toddler finds a mud puddle at the bottom of a slide at the playground. You can even include some basic toiletries but don’t pack anything that will melt or freeze in your car.
Never go anywhere without a phone charger.
I cannot stress this enough as someone who is always guilty of having a dead phone! Keep an extra charger in your purse or in your car (or both!). Try to be in the habit of plugging your phone in when the battery hits 50 percent. This is super important for keeping family and friends updated with how your little one is doing. Also, it is essential if you have other kids at home that you have to make arrangements for.
Keep a basic first aid kit in your diaper bag or car.
Bandages, wipes, antibacterial cream, etc. Oh, and an ice pack and heat pack are nice, as well. Check here for a good one from Target. Or, if you’re like me, just throw some band-aids and Neosporin into a Ziploc bag and call it a day!
Know where your local urgent cares or children hospitals are.
The first time Logan got sick with RSV, at three months old, we were in Buffalo, NY for Easter weekend. We had no idea where to take him. It is important to know where you need to go in case of an emergency. You may not have a good cell signal (or mental clarity!) to Google it. It might sound as though I’m paranoid, but it could help to do a search before you go, screenshot a map, and save it to your photos.
I hope that some of my experiences help you prepare for an emergency.