What to Do in an Emergency

First-Aid Shopping List

Make sure you always have these items in your home:

  • Bandages in a variety of sizes
  • Nonstick gauze pads
  • Cloth tape (or, even better, tape that sticks to itself)
  • Thermometer
  • Tweezers that grab well
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Acetaminophen and ibuprofen
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)

When you're on the road, take along baby wipes for cleaning, as well as a large water bottle with a squirt top, which is great for rinsing wounds and irrigating eyes.

Tips for Calling 911

  • You can stay on the phone with the dispatcher until help arrives. If your child gets worse in the meantime, ask for instructions about what to do.
  • If possible, send someone to wait for the ambulance and direct the EMTs to you. If you are alone, make sure the door is open and that the EMTs will be able to find you.
  • When calling from a cell phone, give your location immediately. The information that comes up for the dispatcher may not be accurate enough.

5 Things Every Parent Should Know

1 Poison Control's phone number

It's 1-800-222-1222. Store it in your phone contacts.


Take a course from the American Heart Association (heart.org) or American Red Cross (redcross.org). See how-to videos for both baby and child at parents.com/first-aid.

3 How to help someone who's choking

This is included in a CPR course.

4 How to use an epinephrine injector

An EpiPen or Auvi-Q administers the medication that treats a severe allergic reaction; they can literally save a life. Even if your own child doesn't have an allergy, it's possible that a child could get dropped off at your house with an EpiPen or Auvi-Q in hand. It's simple to use -- you inject it into the middle of the outer thigh, even through clothing, and hold for several seconds. But actually doing it when you're flustered may be hard, so it's a smart idea to become familiar with the process beforehand.

5 Location of nearest emergency room with pediatric expertise

Children require different equipment, medications, and techniques than adults. Ask your doctor where you should take your child if the need should arise. You won't always have a choice, but it's good to know the best possible place.

Originally published in the July 2013 issue of Parents magazine.

All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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