12 Tips for Family Emergencies

Medically reviewed by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

When it comes to your health and the health of your family, it is essential to be ready for the unexpected. Emergencies can happen anytime or anywhere. The following 10 tips can help you be better prepared.

  1. Keep a first aid kit in your home and car.

  2. If you or a family member has a chronic or life-threatening condition, wear an identification bracelet with detailed medical information about the condition.

  3. Keep at least a day's supply of medicine with you when out and about, in case you are unable to get home for an extended period of time.

  4. If you receive medication through a mail order pharmacy, have a back-up local pharmacy to use if medicine shipments are delayed or quick availability is affected. You may need to order medicines at least 30 days in advance to allow for mail delays.

  5. Keep emergency telephone numbers (doctor, pharmacy, poison control center, emergency/rescue personnel) on each phone in your house as well as on your cell phone.

  6. Check your first aid kits and medicine cabinet each year to dispose of expired medicines and re-stock if needed. "Spring clean" your medicine cabinet and check your kits.

  7. Always read the medicine label. Follow the label directions on how and when (or when not) to take medicines. Remember to keep all medicines out of the sight and reach of children

    When traveling:

  8. Make sure to take the prescription medicines you need and to pack any common nonprescription medicines you may use, especially when travelling overseas. The availability or formulation of many familiar medicines may differ by country.

  9. Keep medicines with you in their original containers. Do not pack them in checked luggage that could be lost or exposed to extreme temperatures. Store medicines in a cool, dry location. Heat and humidity can alter the potency of medicines.

  10. Keep a list of all your medicines (prescription and over-the-counter) and dietary supplements. Have health insurance and other important medical information with you at all times. Do not keep this information in checked luggage.

  11. Take a travel medicine kit for emergencies.

  12. Be prepared for a medical emergency when traveling within your country, or abroad.

Some of the above information was provided, in part, with the kind permission of the Council on Family Health (www.cfhc.org)

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Last Editorial Review: 12/22/2008