Prevention Helps Keep Kids Safe

Almost 35 million children visited an emergency department in 1992. Yet a recent survey commissioned by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) and The Upjohn Company found that only one our of five families with children say they have discussed with their regular doctor what to do in a medical emergency and only one-third say they feel "very well prepared to handle an emergency".

"One of the most important gifts you can give your children is the knowledge of how to recognize and respond to medical emergencies," says Robert Schafermeyer, MD, FACEP, an emergency physician in North Caroline and chair of the ACEP Pediatric Emergency Medicine Committee.

"Whether children are home alone with with a sitter, parents can help ensure their safety by making sure every family member is prepared for an emergency," says Schafermeyer. The American College of Emergency Physicians recommends that parents take the following steps:

Use your doctor or pediatrician to learn about emergency care in your community, get preventive care such as immunizations and treat minor illnesses before they become serious.

Make sure every child knows how to call for help. If your community does not have the 9-1-1 emergency number, post the seven-digit emergency numbers for emergency medical services, police, fire and the poison control center near every phone.

Make prevention a priority. Lock away all poisons, harmful products and weapons. Safety belts, child safety seats, and bike helmets are just a few ways to prevent injuries.

Keep a first aid kit and a manual in a handy place. Make sure all family members and sitters know where the kit is located.

Leave a consent-to-treat form for each child with the sitter, and attach your child's medical information.

To receive a free copy of a consent-to-treat form, a list of items that belong in a home first aid kit, and the brochure What You Should Know About Emergency Care, send a business-size, stamped self-addressed envelope to: Prevention, American College of Emergency Physicians, 900 17th St. NW, Suite 1250, Washington, DC 20006.


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