Back to school: Make sure your kids have medical identification and emergency contacts

Add this quick emergency preparedness step to your back to school checklist

New lunchbox. Check. Notebooks. Check. Pencils. Check. Emergency phone numbers. Check?

Parents and caregivers may have a checklist this week to help them ensure their child is ready to go back to school.  However, many probably haven’t thought to add ‘preparing their child for what to do in the event of a medical emergency’ to their list.iStock_000018880949_Medium

Heading back to school means children (especially young adults) have more freedom and independence. That also means mom or dad isn’t right by his/her child’s side every minute of the day, especially when he/she gets hurt on the playground or for teenagers, gets in a car accident on the way home from school.

But mom and dad, don’t panic just yet! There are a few easy and simple things you can do right now to help your child be prepared for a medical emergency and unexpected trip to the emergency department:

  • Handwritten medical card: For a quick, low-tech fix, have your child place a handwritten folded card with any significant health problems, medications being taken and any allergies that he/she has in his/her backpack, wallet or purse near an identification card. Including the phone number for your family doctor can make it easier for healthcare workers to find out information about your child.
  • Download an app: Almost everyone today has a smart phone, older children included. There are a few apps that can be used to store your health information which you can update regularly. Most of these apps offer the option to keep vital and personal health information behind a password-protected area. However, you can make some of that information available in the event of an emergency to assist those taking care of you. If your child has a smart phone, help them download a health information app and keep it updated.
  • ICE your child’s phone: No, I’m not talking about putting your child’s phone on ice. ICE stands for in case of emergency and these three letters can be placed in front of the name of a close contact such as a parent, sibling, etc. Many emergency responders will search a critical patient’s cell phone for the ICE label to help them get in contact with family that can provide crucial information when minutes really count. And better yet, this option works on even the oldest versions of cell phones.
  • Commercial products: You may be familiar with the original version of the medical identification card, the so-called medical alert bracelet. These remain a staple for those with certain medical conditions such as seizure disorders, diabetes, etc. However modern technology has provided a number of other options to help you or your child be medically identifiable to emergency medical providers. Many of the companies that offer medical alert style bracelets also market other medical ID products.  A brief search on the internet can help you decide if one of these products would be best for your child.

Whichever method you and your child decide is best, it’s important to make sure your child has medical identification communicating vital health information in the event of a serious medical emergency. Make sure you add this quick emergency preparedness step to your back to school checklist!




Take the next steps:

  • Do one of the above emergency preparedness tips with your child today.
  • Research medical identification apps (Google Play and iTunes) and find one that works best for your family.
  • Learn more about our emergency medicine team.

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For more than 160 years, the University of Michigan Health System has been a national leader in advanced patient care, innovative research to improve human health and comprehensive education of physicians and medical scientists. The three U-M hospitals have been recognized numerous times for excellence in patient care, including a #1 ranking in Michigan and national rankings in many specialty areas by U.S. News & World Report.