Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Emergency Room Survival Kit for Parents

We had two Emergency Room visits in the last couple of weeks.  Respiratory issues.  It reminded me of an earlier time.  Then, while cleaning up in the house, I ran across a survival kit I had thrown together for an earlier time in my parenting career.  That seemed like enough reason to write this post.


One of my kids was subject to episodes that necessitated trips to the Emergency Room.  Follow-up required transfer to a hospital that specialized in my child's condition.  None of those hospitals were in mid-Michigan.

A typical episode might start at 8:00 PM.  The Emergency Room staff typically "found" a pending discharge in a hospital at 9:00 AM the next morning.  That "pending discharge" became an open bed at 2:00 PM, at which point it was confirmed and my child was transported to a facility that was typically two hours away.  I needed to be there for admissions and in-processing.  I got back home between 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM, 22-to-24 hours after we made the original dash to the Emergency Room.

Spending more than 3 hours in an Emergency Room is grinding.  Spending a day in Emergency Rooms and Hospital Admissions was enough to motivate me to throw together a comfort kit.

The kit

One of these was stashed beneath the seat of every vehicle in the ERJ fleet.
  • Three packets instant coffee
  • Toothbrush
  • Fresh socks
  • Knit cap
  • Ear Plugs
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Power supply for cell phone.
  • Small stash of O-T-C antiacid and other meds for me
  • Change for vending machines, hidden in cap
  • Not shown:  Kid's meds list with doses.
Coffee:  Coffee in most Emergency Rooms is undrinkable.  They use it to repave parking lots.
Toothbrush:  Needed to make me feel human.  Paste is optional.  You may feel otherwise.
Socks: Comfort.  I can face the day with fresh socks and brushed teeth.
Knit cap:  A way of shutting out stimuli...way too much happens in E-rooms that is disturbing
Ear plugs: A way of shutting out stimuli.  The third time this happened I was able to get a good night's sleep, even with TVs going and folks coming and going.  As a result, I felt much peppier on the drive home.
Hand Sanitizer:  Some of those people are sick, really sick.
Power supply:  No signal eats up battery life.  Folks want to be kept in the loop. Also, phones are now entertainment for the kid.  A distracted kid is a happier kid.  For that you need....POWER.
Meds: You need to be your best self when your kid is sick.
Change: Yes, you will need to eat and cash-money is still universal.
Meds list:  Every place will ask and it is much more efficient to hand them a typed out list.  Also, include meds that were tried and did not work and/or had adverse reactions.  Include history of dosage increases/decreases.

The whole idea is for you to cut this to fit your needs rather than slavishly follow my Bill-of-Materials.  I included the "whys" so you can substitute things that meet your needs.

This is not a "fishing for pity" post.  Don't need it.  I am pretty sure that portion of parenting is behind us.  I posted this information in case others might find it useful.   I had about $12 invested in each kit and it repaid that investment many times over the first time I used it.


  1. I'm disappointed. I was betting you would have at least one airplane bottle of rum in there, for medicinal purposes only, of course. Just kidding.
    I have to say I never thought about something like this, but with literally dozens of ER visits per year for the last 20 some years, due to chronic migraine, my own, my wife always has a lot of these items in her purse. Of course, without the issue of hospital stays, and young children to keep occupied for long periods of time, it is much easier for us.

    1. The hand sanitizer is 62% ethanol. But I had to keep my wits about me, plus four hours of road time after ER discharge.

      Once home and with all issues put to bed, I did follow Paul's advice to Timothy. A little wine for the stomach sack.

  2. That is a great idea... I was forced into fishing under the seats trying to find loose change... Sigh

  3. There is one more thing that I want to add.

    I started writing Thank-You cards when we received average-or-better service.

    I take the card to the main receptionist. I tell her that Thank-You cards count double if "The Boss" gets to read them. I ask her to route it through "Administration" to get it to the Emergency Room. I note the doctor's and nurses' names.

    Emergency room staff take a pounding. I have to believe Thank-You cards are a rarity. I don't know if they remember who sent them....but I like to think of it as an investment in Karmic Insurance.

    All I know is that so far it has not hurt us.

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