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Food For Thought Friday: Help Them Help You

Today at Keeping Her Cool, Colleen is promoting the ICE (In Case of Emergency) campaign which helps emergency personnel to search your cell phone to find your primary emergency contacts in the event of an emergency (click here to read). If you thought you had all you could handle just keeping yourself together, then have a few kids and watch everything that could possibly go haywire do exactly that. The trick is to prepare yourselves for the snags. We don’t need to live in fear or expect that any moment the shoe is going to drop, but we can go a long way towards keeping life’s little dramas from turning into full-length epic feature dramas by taking some smart common-sense steps.

In addition to ICE-ing your cell phone (click for more info), here are a few things you can do immediately to minimize your family’s tragedy potential.

•    Call For Help–Practice Makes Perfect. This weekend, when the family is sitting around and watching TV, take the phone off the hook. When commercial break hits, pass the phone to each member of the family (parents included) and practice dialing 911 several times each. Though we teach our kids to memorize the number many children and adults, when in a high-crisis panic situation, will not have the muscle control to properly dial the numbers. Practicing drills it into physical memory. Then have each family member practice giving your address clearly and completely. This exercise helps dispatchers and emergency workers get to you as fast as possible in the event of an emergency.
    Talk It Out. Though we often want to shield children from the dangers of the world, you can train them to be savvy survivors by helping them to understand what to do in the case of emergency. When a news story comes on the radio about a child that has been kidnapped or suffered an accident, ask your child what they would do in that situation. Help them to think through emergencies and how they would respond. Teach them they don’t need to be afraid, but that they do need to be smart. Model good common sense and decision-making.
•    Get It Out Of Your Head. You pride yourself on how many details you can keep lodged in your brain or that you never make a list to go to the grocery store. But if something happens to you or your spouse or both, all the details and shared information between the two of you will be inaccessible. Emergency workers and extended families will need vital information. The house phone is always a good location for listing doctors’ names and children’s allergies, but increasingly people are abandoning their home phones in favor of cell phones. Since the kitchen is still seen as a central location, find a spot on the wall where you can keep a list of important information. Or, for the super-organized, compile a three-ring binder with all of your family’s vital information and display it in a location that would be easily visible to an emergency worker. Make two copies of the binder and give one to a trusted, nearby family member. In the event of a fire, you are guaranteed to have a back up. Also consider bringing them into the loop about where you keep important things like wills and the keys to safe deposit boxes.

Share your family’s common-sense safety tips in the comments section!

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