American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

Emergency 411: Are You Prepared?

While no one likes to think about themselves or loved ones in danger, sudden illnesses, accidents, natural disasters, and violent acts do occur. In fact, a new survey from the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) finds 3 in 10 adults say they experienced a medical emergency in a public setting requiring treatment from a medical professional and as many as 3 in 5 are concerned about a medical emergency happening to them.

At no other time is being prepared more important than when a disaster or medical emergency strikes. By using the following tips, you can help protect yourself and others:

Prepare Your Family and Home

Take the time to assemble an emergency kit containing water, food, a battery-powered radio, spare batteries and other disaster supplies. Also, develop a family disaster plan that includes:

  • Steps to take when an emergency occurs, including specific responsibilities for each family member.

  • Education for everyone in the household, especially children, on using fire extinguishers and calling 911.

  • Designated meeting places. A good plan will include predetermined locations inside the home, just outside the home, in the neighborhood and even outside your town, where all family members know to meet depending on the type of emergency. For example, a basement is one of the safest places to meet in the event of a tornado and a mailbox or street light are easy-to-remember locations if the home needs to be evacuated, as in the case of a fire. Ensure each family member knows where the locations are and have plans to help children and those with impaired physical mobility arrive safely.

  • Evacuation drills and quizzes for children and other family members on what to do in different types of emergencies.

Check with your local hospital or department of public health for educational materials on emergency preparedness. Or, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Emergency Preparedness and You” Web page for step-by-step guidance on how to deal with emergencies more effectively.

Seek out CPR and First Aid Training

The American Red Cross has a database of classes in your area for CPR, Automated External Defibrillator, and first aid training, as well as emergency preparedness education.

Carry a Medical Information Card

The AOA created a printable emergency information card  to keep in your purse or wallet. On the card you can list emergency contact information, medications you take, any allergies or pre-existing medical conditions you have, and your physician’s contact information.


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