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Nanny Advice: Dealing Effectively with Emergencies

Emergencies happen. Your charge could fall from a bike...develop a sudden high fever...knock a pot from the stove. What if your charge started choking during a meal? What if she was stung by a bee and suddenly couldn't breathe? Would you know what to do?

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. Many parents and nannies feel they are prepared for emergencies because they know when and how to call 9-1-1. Sadly, this isn't always enough. 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. AAP offers the following 10 tips to help you be better prepared... because no matter how hard you try to protect your children-emergencies happen.

  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 live and work.
  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 and earthquakes happen too!

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

    Nanny Emergency Contacts Form Sample Nanny Emergency Contacts Form.

    Consider if something happened to YOU, the nanny! Does your boss know who to contact in this kind of emergency too?

  4. TEACH YOUR CHARGES WHO TO CALL AND WHAT TO SAY. 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 your older charges 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? If you cannot answer yes to each of these questions, talk to the parents. Share this article with them and encourage them to correct the problem.
  6. KEEP A CLEAR AND UP-TO-DATE RECORD OF IMMUNIZATIONS. This can help doctors do a better job of diagnosing a problem in an emergency. For example, if your 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 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.

    Nanny Emergency Contacts Form Sample Nanny Emergency Information Form.

  8. MAKE A LIST OF ALLERGIES AND REACTIONS. The emergency plan should also include a place to write this information down. 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 any of your children 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 parents 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 Aide training. Your pediatrician, local hospital, fire department and local chapter of the Red Cross can tell you about classes. Consider asking the parent's to pay for the class - they should be delighted to!
Recent events have taught us the importance of emergency planning. would suggest that you add another item to your list - have an evacuation backup plan! Imagine a major emergency that forces you to leave the family home with your charges. Where should you meet the parents? At your own home? The Grandparents? Remember, in emergencies cell phone systems quickly become overwhelmed - this is something you want discussed and decided upon in advance!

Are you a nanny who does not drive? What resources exist for you and your charges to evacuate in the event of an emergency? Research this NOW so you are prepared in an emergency.

Pets are another consideration in an evacuation - make sure your plan considers the family pets.

When cell systems are overloaded, text messages often will still go through!

If you work for a family with divorced parents or custody issues, please make sure you know to whom you may release the child. Get it in writing from your boss in case law enforcement gets involved.

Emergency Preparedness Resources

Link: Emergency Preparedness Resources U.S. Department of Homeland Security's READY KIDS
Link: Emergency Preparedness Resources FEMA for Kids
Link: Emergency Preparedness Resources for special needs kids American Academy of Pediatrics