Prepare for the Unexpected: Your ER Checklist

To prepare for medical emergencies, The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) developed a checklist of how to prepare for an emergency. Although not exhaustive, following these steps will help ensure you're prepared for the unexpected. 

  • Store emergency numbers on all your phones, and make sure your children know how to call for help. Children should be able to call 911 (or local emergency number) and give his or her name, address and a brief description of the emergency.
  • Organize your family’s medical information. Complete medical history forms on each family member and keep up-to-date copies in your home, car, first aid kits and wallet. Take the forms you need when you go the ER. Seniors should consider keeping this information in their refrigerators—emergency medical services staff know to look for this information there. This may also include past hospital records.
  • Keep updated medical history forms that include information on medical conditions, allergies, medications and contact information for your doctors. Add In-Case-of-Emergency (“ICE”) entries to your cell phone address book. If you arrive in the ER unconscious, emergency staff will check your cell phone for ICE contact information.
  • Wear medical jewelry if you have a chronic medical condition or allergic reactions to drugs.
  • Map the closest emergency departments to your home, business and other locations popular to you. Drive to these hospitals to see how long it takes and what traffic obstacles you might face. In a life-threatening emergency, call 9-1-1, don’t drive yourself. If you are able to drive, go to the closest emergency department. Don’t delay care by driving to more distant hospitals. If necessary, a patient may be transferred to a hospital with special capabilities, such as regional trauma or pediatric center.
  • Keep well-stocked first aid kits in your home and car.
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