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PLANNING FOR AN EMERGENCY--NOW
One of the first things you should do is fill in, for each family member, the medical chart provided at the end of this hook. The chart provides medical information you and doctors or paramedics need in an emergency, such as allergies, medications taken regularly, or chronic conditions. There is also a place for important emergency telephone numbers in the front of the book. Fill these out now, before you forget.
KNOW THE ROUTE TO THE HOSPITAL
Know the best route to the nearest hospital emergency department. if an ambulance or paramedic team is not available, you may have to drive yourself or a victim to the hospital. It is a good idea to make a practice run so that the roads will be familiar to you at the time of an emergency. Wrong turns can take precious minutes and Could mean the difference between life and death.
EMERGENCY MEDICAL IDENTIFICATION
Wearing an emergency ID bracelet or necklace or carrying an emergency information card could save the life of someone who is unable to speak after a serious accident. This medical identification is particularly important for a person who has a chronic condition such as diabetes, epilepsy, glaucoma, or hemophilia, or who may have a serious allergic reaction to certain medications (such as penicillin) or to insect stings.
These bracelets, necklaces, and cards include such information as the individual's name, address, blood type, and any serious conditions or allergies. They should be worn or carried at all times. A bracelet or necklace is generally better than a card since it is more easily noticed. These items are available through several manufacturers. Ask your doctor, hospital emergency department, or local medical association where you might order them.
In the meantime, you can make your own ID card. include your name, address, telephone number, name and telephone number of a relative to contact, your doctor's name and number, any serious medical conditions or surgical procedures, medication taken regularly, allergies, and any other important information. Be sure the card is prominently displayed in your wallet.
The need for donated organs far exceeds the supply. For every person who receives an organ transplant each year, many more who could benefit from a transplanted organ will not have the opportunity and will die as a result. If you want to donate your organs after your death, make your intentions clear to your relatives and sign a donor card. Anyone can donate his or her organs and tissues. A person under 18 who wishes to become an organ donor must have his or her parent or legal guardian witness the signing of the donor card. (Parents should keep a copy of their child's donor card in their wallet with their own card.) You should know, however, that even if a person has signed a donor card, some states require the consent of a close relative (parent or legal guardian, spouse, adult child, or adult sibling) before the organs can be donated upon death. For this reason, it is especially important to make your wishes clear to your family.
You can obtain information or applications by calling the Coalition on Donation (800-355-SHARE) or visiting the federal government-sponsored web site (http://www.organdonor.gov). You can also indicate your wish to be an organ donor on your driver's license; ask the secretary of state's office how to do so.
SUPPLIES TO KEEP ON HAND
Now is the time to assemble those basic items you may need when an injury or illness occurs in your home, car, or boat, or while camping. Keep these items together in a box or other container and out of the sight and reach of young children. Be sure to check the supplies periodically and replace used items. If a member of your family has special needs, ask your doctor what additional items you should include. Keep on hand:
¸ Different sizes of sterile adhesive strips
¸ Roll of gauze bandage (3 inches wide)
¸ Nonstick sterile gauze pads (4 inches x 4 inches) packaged separately in sealed wrappers
¸ Butterfly bandages and thin adhesive strips to hold skin edges together
¸ Roll of adhesive tape 0 inch wide)
¸ Elastic bandage (2 or 3 inches wide) for wrapping sprained ankles and wrists
¸ Package of cotton-tipped swabs
¸ Roll of absorbent cotton to pad a splint
¸ Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen for pain relief (in liquid or tablet form for children)
¸ Small jar or tube of petroleum jelly to use with rectal thermometer
¸ 1-ounce bottle of syrup of ipecac to induce vomiting if poisons are swallowed; activated charcoal solution to prevent the stomach from absorbing poison
¸ Tweezers without teeth
¸ Safety pins
¸ Small bottle of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide
¸ Tube of 1 percent hydrocortisone cream
¸ Bar of plain soap
¸ Flashlight for car or boat, or when camping
¸ Antihistamine such as diphenhydramine in liquid or tablet form for allergic reactions
¸ Bottle of povidone-iodine solution
¸ Bottle of sterile saline solution or irrigation fluid to wash out eyes
¸ Sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15
¸ Tooth preservation kit
EVERYDAY ITEMS THAT CAN BE USED IN AN EMERGENCY
Certain everyday items in your home can be used in an emergency (keep in mind other items that may also be useful under urgent circumstances):
¸ Disposable or regular diapers, sanitary napkins, towels, sheets, or linens to use as compresses to control heavy bleeding, for bandages, as padding for splints, or in emergency childbirth
¸ Diaper pins to secure bandage or sling
¸ Blankets to keep the victim warm
¸ Magazines, newspapers, umbrella, or pillow to use as splints for broken bones
¸ Table leaf or old door to use as a stretcher
¸ Fan and/or a spray bottle of water to cool heatstroke victim
¸ Large scarf or handkerchief to use as eye bandage or sling