What’s worse than a potty training accident? An accident that causes real physical harm. Sure potty training accidents can get messy, but they don’t make your heart stop, nor do they have you rushing your kid into a car without shoes on.
As the parents of two boys, we have been pretty lucky in the childhood accidents department, but that doesn’t mean we have avoided the ER. And not just for the kids. Over the last 5 years 3 out of 4 members of our home have had to make an ER visit. Thankfully we have access to quality health care and have all recovered from our various mishaps. But the most recent incident got us thinking about how we can be better prepared for accidents. Obviously we can't plan for them but here are a few tips that we could have used in the rushed moments:
A Group Chat
Have a group chat set up on your phone for emergencies. That way you can text several people at once about what has happened and ask for childcare for the non-injured children when you have to rush to the hospital. (If you think taking an injured child to the ER is tough, try taking their healthy sibling who is confused and scared. BTDT, No fun!) If you can, choose people who have a child\children who are roughly the same size and gender as the child they will be caring for because it saves you having to pack clothes for that child. If not, just toss them your house keys on the way out. The group chat also works for updates throughout the event.
Program your GPS
Have your desired emergency room pre-programmed into your GPS. Trust us, you won't be thinking straight and being able to just press a location is much easier than trying to figure out which ER is closer or trying to remember which one has a pediatric ER.
Pack a bag
If you have an emergency bag in your car already you are ahead of the game. If you don't have a car, keep a bag packed in your hallway closet. In that bag you should have the following items for each member of the family:
- extra underwear (or diapers),
- flip flops, or crocs. You want the shoe to be easy to slip on and off.
- Sweat shirt and sweatpants or leggings.
- Copies of the front and back of your health insurance card, your children's social security numbers
- Contact info for all primary physicians and preferred pharmacy.
- Emergency contacts in case you do leave your phone at home.
- Bottles of water
- Snacks for the whole family.
During our last emergency, my husband, carried our son out to the car and several hours later we realized he would have to carry him out of the hospital because we left without his shoes. At the time, our son was 12 and almost 100 pounds! If we had a bag packed we wouldn't have had this problem.
Also, waits in the ER can be very loooong and you never have the right change for the vending machine. So having snacks and water on hand is really beneficial.
Finally, try to remember that childhood (and sometimes adulthood) is a series of near misses. Be smart about childproofing your home and minding your children, but don’t beat yourself up when something goes wrong. Just like potty accidents, real accidents happen, and are part of life. Many of us are extremely fortunate to live near exemplary health care compared to the rest of the world. Hopefully your little one will be left with nothing but scars that will fade and stories that will be told over holiday dinners for years to come.
Do you have any other great tips for preparing for an emergency room visit? Tell us in the comments below!