I’ve read a number of blogs recently where the authors have discussed the importance of keeping emergency contact numbers available and organized “just in case” (for example, Bert’s post “In Case of Emergency,” which he was inspired to write after reading about this topic on Lifehacker.com).
As you may know from my blog posts, I’ve been involved in (or affected by) quite a few medical emergencies in the last few weeks. Through these experiences, I want to add some additional information about emergency preparedness.
When medical emergencies occur, even the most level-headed among us can become addled and anxious. When this happens, we tend to forget things, like the phone numbers of people we know, important medical details, and other pieces of information that can be useful in a crisis.
Here are some ideas that may come in handy.
A Medical Information Packet
This can be a plastic folder that is the “hub” for copies of medical information. Decide on a “permanent home” for it, and make sure everyone in the family knows where to look for it. This folder should include things like:
- Medical insurance coverage cards
- Summary of any medical conditions
- Include recent incidents that may be of interest or relevant to treatment
- Include food, drug, and other allergies or sensitivities
- List medications (substance, dosage, and frequency) being taken by people in the house
- particularly valuable for older people in your family, or others who may be taking quite a few medications
- you may want to have copies of the pharmacy labels
- Emergency contact information including:
- friends and family you may want to notify (home, office, and mobile numbers)
- Doctor’s names, contact number, and role (e.g. “Pain management” or “Cardiologist”)
- Clergy member contacts
- Copies of any special instructions (Do Not Resuscitate / DNR instructions, for example)
Keepin’ the joint running
If the primary “house manager” is incapacitated or unable to communicate for any length of time, someone else will need to step in. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to have a few people “trained” on how to keep the house running. This can include sharing information on:
- Where medical and life insurance policies and related information are kept
- How bills are paid (including information like where checkbooks, ledgers, etc. are kept) so someone can step in and pay bills
- Include information on where account logins can be found for electronic banking and other online resources used to manage the household
- Know where extra keys are, and who (neighbors, for example) may have copies in case you need someone to take care of things at the house or retrieve something to bring it to the hospital
- Where financial records and similar information are stored
- Location of any safe deposit boxes, contents of them, and location of keys
These lists are by no means all-inclusive, but I hope they get you thinking of some things that might help you prepare particularly if you have family members with health issues, or who may be getting on in years.
Like many uncomfortable topics, human nature is to put them off until later. Unfortunately, if that’s your strategy, they may come back to bite you.