Emergencies occur when they are least expected. Whether it’s your own life on the line or someone else’s, there are dozens of ways to educate and prepare yourself so that when the time comes, you can make smart, informed decisions. Check out these tips and test your own emergency knowledge:
1. How to Save a Life 101: Whether you’re shopping at the mall or getting work done in the office, someone near you may need your help. First aid, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), automated external defibrillator (AED) and Heimlich training will equip you with extremely valuable skills; you’ll know how to recognize an emergency situation and act fast before professional help arrives. Thanks to the American Red Cross, there are several training courses that integrate hands-on activities, lectures and demonstrations. You can organize a class for you and your co-workers or at your child’s school by contacting your local Red Cross chapter at www.redcross.org.
2. Stop a fire before it starts: According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), firefighters respond to an emergency every 22 seconds. In a 2008 report, the NFPA found the leading cause of home fires and injuries to be cooking, causing 40 percent of fires. Heating and lighting equipment, smoking, washing machines and candles were also to blame for houses going up in flames. The good news, however, is that many home fires can be prevented. Sprinklers and smoke alarms that are in good working condition can help keep your family safe. The NFPA also urges homeowners to have a plan in the event of a fire. Figure out a safe escape route and keep window ladders and extinguishers in an easily accessible place. For more statistics and tips, visit www.nfpa.org.
3. Help others help you: Access to your medical history information can be critical if you or someone you love ends up unconscious in an emergency room. If you’ve ever been hurt and unable to communicate, you and your loved ones know how helpless it feels. Emergency medical technicians, hospital staff and doctors face this issue every day. Medical ID and alert bracelets can easily solve this problem. For those with certain conditions, allergies, devices (such as pacemakers), sensory impairments and more, ID tags make this information easily available in emergency situations. Knowing if someone has diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease or a seizure disorder helps emergency responders do their jobs quickly and more efficiently. Companies like American Medical ID (www.americanmedical-id.com) and the MedicAlert Foundation (www.medicalert.org) sell a variety of ID tags that can be engraved with all sorts of health and contact information.
As you learn more about lifesaving techniques and emergency protocol, be sure to teach your family, friends and co-workers as well. By encouraging others to be prepared, your surroundings will quickly become much safer environments. For more tips and information about large-scale emergencies such as natural and technological hazards, visit the National Emergency Management Association (www.nemaweb.org) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (www.fema.gov).