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Emergency Preparedness For Nannies and Senior Caregivers

Posted by Kathleen Webb on 2/14/14 10:48 AM

Inclement weather, train derailments, flight delays- these are all potential situations that could keep a person from their child or elderly relative. But other emergency situations exist- your chargeemergency preparedness for nannies and senior caregivers could develop a high fever, knock a pot of boiling water from the stove, develop an allergic reaction that prevents them from breathing - that requires a nanny or senior caregiver to react quickly and make the right choice in getting medical attention. 

Emergencies happen all the time, but if you're prepared, it could make a huge difference in the outcome of the situation.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), an emergency exists if you think a child could die or suffer permanent harm unless care is received right away. Your charge may need care before emergency medical service personnel arrive. And being prepared can assure the child isn't further harmed by doing the wrong thing. Many caregivers feel they are prepared for emergencies because they know when and how to call 9-1-1. Sadly, this isn't always enough. 

The AAP offers the following 10 tips to organize an emergency preparedness plan for a nanny or senior caregiver:

  1. CHECK IF 9-1-1 IS THE RIGHT NUMBER TO CALL. Some areas of the country do not have 9-1-1. Others have E-9-1- 1 where your address is automatically stored in a database. Make sure you know what's available where you or your elderly relative live.

  2. KEEP A WELL-STOCKED FIRST-AID KIT ON HAND. From minor cuts and bruises to sunburn and sprains, a good first-aid kit is a great first line of defense. To learn what makes a good first-aid kit, contact your health care provider, local pharmacy or the American Red Cross. 

    Consider putting together an emergency food kit also, with enough food and water for all for three days. It's not just terrorism; disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, tornados and earthquakes happen too!

  3. MAKE A LIST OF EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBERS. Write down the numbers you need that is easy to access at all times. Make sure you include back-up family members in case something happens to the primary caregivers.

    Consider if something happened to you, the caregiver? Does your boss know who to contact if you're unable to?

  4. TEACH YOUR CHARGES WHO TO CALL AND WHAT TO SAY. Does your elderly relative have the capacity to call for help? Can your charge now phone Mommy or Daddy at work? Once the child learns to use and speak into the telephone, teach them about 9-1-1. Make sure older children know where the phone numbers are for emergency help and poison control. Roll play with the child. If they call 9-1-1, the operator will ask, "Fire, Police or Ambulance/Rescue?" Tell your child to stay on the line while the call is transferred. When the appropriate agency picks up, the emergency operator will ask for name, address, telephone number and details. He or she will want to know what has happened, when it happened, where it happened and who is involved. Teach your child not to hang up unless told to do so. The emergency operator may be able to offer help over the phone. 

    TIP: Unblock your caller ID. Make sure the child knows their street address, and apartment or unit number if appropriate.

  5. MAKE SURE YOUR HOUSE NUMBER IS VISIBLE FROM THE STREET. Make it easy for police, fire officials or emergency medical personnel to find your house. Inspect your family's home from the street. Are there large house numbers in a highly visible area? Are the numbers are well-lit, able to be seen at night? Can they be seen from the street in either direction? Share this article with them and encourage them to correct the problem.

  6. KEEP A CLEAR AND UP-TO-DATE RECORD OF IMMUNIZATIONS AND SURGERIES. This can help doctors do a better job of diagnosing a problem in an emergency. For example, if your senior relative has had recent surgery and in a rehabilitation program, it should be well documented. Or, if child has a bad infection, and the doctor knows your child has been vaccinated against Hepatitis, the doctor can rule that out. This can save time. Ask the family for the current immunization records of any child in your care (or a list of medications your senior charge is taking) and keep it with other emergency medical forms.

  7. WRITE DOWN MEDICAL CONDITIONS, MEDICATIONS AND DOSAGES. Develop an emergency plan to hold all important information, including numbers and medical history. Being prepared in advance can help assure proper treatment and prevent serious drug interactions. 

  8. MAKE A LIST OF ALLERGIES AND REACTIONS. It will help ensure that health care professionals don't use medicines that can hurt your child. And, it might help emergency medical personnel find a reason for problems such as seizures or shortness of breath. If your children or elderly relative have severe drug allergies or chronic conditions, we recommend they wear Medical I.D. bracelets.

  9. IF YOU HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE, CHECK YOUR EMERGENCY COVERAGE. Check your charge's policy in advance. Some insurance companies require that you call first for approval. Make sure you understand the policy, and carry all necessary cards and phone numbers with you. The direct caregivers of your charge can request additional cards for you, or you may photocopy their cards and retain with other emergency medical information.

  10. TAKE FIRST-AID CLASSES. A basic class will teach CPR and proper ways to treat burns, wrap sprains, apply splints and perform the Heimlich maneuver. Remember, if you take time now, you won't lose precious time when your charge's life could depend on it. Research when your local hospital or Red Cross will be holding CPR and First Aid training. Your pediatrician, local hospital, fire department and local chapter of the Red Cross can tell you about classes. Consider asking your charge's family to pay for the class - they should be delighted to!

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Topics: senior caregivers, eldercare, nanny, nannies, emergency plans

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