Ready or Not #43: Emergency Information Packets

You plan and prepare and plan – and then you find out what you really need. Fortunately everything worked out, correct medications were given and everyone is well, but it was a big eye opener for me. I have been pretty confident that by carrying a list of the medications and medical history for my family in my purse, and posting another one in my house, I just knew that I was prepared for a medical incident. I guess what I did is better than nothing, but was I ever wrong. You need more; you need to put together an Emergency Information packet.

Imagine this scenario (It has been haunting me): An empty nest, a disabled love one that needs full-time care, a caretaker that falls ill and can’t call for help. A neighbor/friend drops by to chat that evening and finds the caretaker somewhat unresponsive. Help is called and the caretaker gets well the next day, but in the meantime the totally dependent loved one needs his/her medication – and by the way, which one is the diabetic? No medical alert bracelet on either one. Oh no.

There are no instructions for the medications except what is on the bottle: “Take 1 capsule per day as directed”. Is that “directed” in the morning or the evening? You have all of the medications gathered together, and you know that he/she needs their medication – but there are 14 bottles, and you don’t have a clue! Let’s even make this more interesting: It is a Saturday evening and the pharmacy has closed and the doctor never was “IN”.

The dependent one that is being cared for knows they need their medication, but doesn’t know which ones. Dangerous predicament. I was scared because if someone came to our house and tried to figure out how to administer the medications that we need without the proper instructions, it could go bad real fast. Excel spreadsheet to the rescue! I don’t ever want anyone to feel helpless like I did because of lack of information, so I have made two spreadsheets that you can fill out: Emergency Contacts and Medicine Chart. When you get them finished, put all the charts in a zip-loc bag and tape it to the side of the fridge. Also put a sharp pencil or reliable pen in with it; just trust me when I say that it will be helpful.

The first one, Emergency Contacts is exactly that — a list of all of the people or places that might be helpful, or would have helpful information, during an emergency. I’ve made an example for you to get an idea of how to set it up.

You will want to make sure that you fill out the first section and include all of the people who reside in the house and where they can be reached during the day.

This is also a list that you could print off and carry in your wallet or purse.

So, lets say that one day your neighbor/friend happens to stroll by and drops in to say “hi”, but instead finds you passed out on the floor because you are dehydrated (tsk, tsk- two gallons of water, per person, per day for a two week period) and finds your loved one, who isn’t dehydrated, but can’t tell you anything. They can’t remember any emergency information, or even what meds they need to take, but they do know they need them.

Well, after you fill the Emergency Contacts list out, you will go on to fill out the Medicine Chart and then you will be ready for such an incident. With the information you have now provided, friends or neighbors will have the information they need to call the people that you think are important during an emergency and they will also have access to the information the emergency personnel need about the proper use and dosage of all of your medications. With this information they will be better able to diagnose and treat you and your loved one and there won’t be a problem of the possibility of over or under-medicating! I am feeling better already because as I was creating this, I was actually filling it out for our family. I am going to sleep better tonight.

And whatever you do, DON’T ALLOW YOURSELF TO GET DEHYDRATED! If you don’t feel well and you are unable to take in liquids and you have stopped urinating, for heavens sake, GO TO THE DOCTORS! I’m a little passionate about this because I nearly lost my mother to dehydration. She was sick, but didn’t want to go to the doctors because, “she was going to be okay” and she ended up being literally just hours away from death when she finally did go to the doctors. She was hospitalized for three days. Drink your water, stay hydrated and, again, let’s all say it together: “Two gallons, per person, per day, for a two week period!” …And where is your packet with all of your families emergency information? Exactly where it should be – taped to the side of your refrigerator. Now we are all going to sleep better at night.

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