The best time to prepare for an emergency is before it happens. Since unintentional injury is the number one killer of children, it is important for parents and other caregivers to know how to respond appropriately in various emergency situations. 

 "Parents can prepare for emergencies in three easy steps.  Having a list of emergency numbers, a well-stocked first-aid kit and knowing first-aid and CPR techniques will greatly increase a child's chances of survival should an emergency occur," said Dr. Lise Christensen, Emergency Department Physician at Children's Hospital.  "These tools and techniques have been proven to save lives time and time again."

Step 1:  Prepare a list of need-to-know numbers

During an emergency, it's easy to become disoriented or upset, so parents need to have all important phone numbers readily available ahead of time. Write each phone number clearly so that it will be easy for children to read, too. Use a pen with dark-colored ink because pencil or light-colored ink can be harder to read when a rescuer is in a hurry or if lights are dim. Make sure the list includes the following numbers:

Emergency medical services (In most places this is 911, but different communities may have their own number – check a local telephone book if you're unsure.)

Poison control, 1-800-222-1222 (This toll-free number will put a parent in touch with the poison control center in his or her state.)

Hospital emergency room,Fire and police departments,A child's doctor, Parents' work, cell phone and/or pager

Neighbors and/or relatives

The list should also include known allergies (especially to any medication), medical conditions, and insurance information for all members of the family.  Because accidents can happen in any part of the home, make copies of the completed list and post one near every telephone in the house. In addition, make sure that people who come to your house to watch your children (babysitters or relatives, for example) familiarize themselves with the list.

Step 2:  Have a well-stocked first-aid kit ready.

A well-stocked first-aid kit, kept within easy reach, is a necessity in every home. Having supplies gathered ahead of time will help a rescuer handle an emergency at a moment's notice. Parents should keep one first-aid kit in their home and one in each car. Also be sure to take a first-aid kit on family vacations.

Choose containers for first-aid kits that are roomy, durable, easy to carry, and simple to open. Plastic tackle boxes or containers for storing art supplies are ideal, since they're lightweight, have handles, and offer a lot of space.  A complete list of supplies that are needed in a well-stocked first-aid kit is available on Children's Hospital's Web site at

After the kit is fully stocked, parents need to read a first-aid manual so they will understand how to use the contents of the kits. (If your children are old enough to understand, review the manuals with them as well.)

Store first-aid kits in places that are out of children's reach but easily accessible for adults. Check the kits regularly. Replace missing items or medicines that may have expired. 

Step 3:  Learn CPR and First Aid

Every parent should know how and when to administer CPR. When performed correctly, CPR can save a child's life by restoring breathing and circulation until advanced life support can be given by medical care providers.

The letters in CPR stand for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, a combination of rescue breathing (mouth-to-mouth resuscitation) and chest compressions. If a child isn't breathing or circulating blood adequately, CPR can restore circulation of oxygen-rich blood to the brain. Without oxygen, permanent brain damage or death can occur in less than 8 minutes.

CPR may be necessary for children during many different emergencies, including accidents, near drowning, suffocation, poisoning, smoke inhalation, electrocution injuries, and suspected sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).  Reading about CPR and learning when it's needed will give parents a basic understanding of the procedure, but it's strongly recommended that parents learn how to perform CPR by taking a course. If CPR is needed, using the correct technique will give a child the best chance of recovery.

By preparing a first-aid kit, a telephone list and by learning CPR, parents will be prepared and have extra assurance when caring for their children. "We certainly hope that parents never need to use these tools," said Christensen, "but in an emergency, they become invaluable." To learn more about how to care for a child in an emergency situation, visit Children's Hospital's Web site at

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