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How to Protect Your Family in Case of an Accident
Life skills help us navigate day-to-day challenges, but they can also help you prepare for the unexpected. Accidents can be impossible to predict, and their outcomes can be life changing.
Mastering essential life skills can help you prepare for — or even prevent — many types of accidents.
Preparing for accidents or disasters
Accidents can happen at any time, often leaving you little or no time to react. But with some precautions and planning, you can avoid many types of accidents or minimize injuries.
Here are some of the leading causes of accidental injury and deaths according to the National Safety Council (NSC):
Falls: Trip and fall accidents and falls from roofs or tree limbs result in the most injuries.
Struck by or against: Struck-by injuries are common in sports. However, these injuries can also happen due to falling objects or when someone becomes trapped between two objects.
Motor-vehicle occupant: Auto accidents rank high in both injuries and deaths.
Overexertion: Sprains, strains, and muscle tears make up most injuries in this category.
Poisoning: Drug overdoses represent most poisoning injuries and deaths. But carbon monoxide, pesticides, and other chemicals also pose a danger.
Planning for — and possibly preventing — accidents may be among the most critical life skills to master.
Injuries can also come as a result of disasters, including fires, floods, and weather events. In these situations, planning and preparedness become essential areas of focus.
Communication is key
Accidents and disasters can be frightening. But you can ease tensions by having a conversation beforehand.
Talk to your family about disasters and accidents. Have a family conversation about what to do if someone gets hurt or disaster strikes. Discuss emergency services and post important numbers in a specific place, such as the fridge or near the telephone stand.
Discuss where to go if you have a tornado, flood, or fire. Build a safety plan with loved ones, considering each scenario.
Teach kids to use 911. Both the U.S. and Canada use 911 if you need to contact emergency services, but this is different in other countries. Make sure your children know what number to dial in an emergency as even small children can learn to use it. Make some pretend calls to practice. Also be sure to keep at least one phone handy and unlocked so anyone can use it.
Set a meeting place outside your home. Disasters can make your home unsafe. Choose another location to meet if you get separated.
Hold drills. We all remember fire drills from school. Home disaster drills offer a helpful way to build a plan for disasters or accidents. You might also discover your plan needs some improvement. Periodic drills provide a perfect way to fine-tune your strategy.
Discuss household safety. Many accidents can be avoided. Discuss some ways that people can get injured but also look for risks in your home. Take a Saturday morning to do a safety check in your home. The experience reinforces safety awareness for kids while also making adults more aware of risks.
Accidents or disasters can be impossible to predict. But by taking steps to prepare, you can react quickly and create a safer situation.
Prepare a first aid kit
Most families know where the bandages are for minor injuries. But keeping a well-stocked first aid kit makes you more prepared for accidental injuries.
Consider buying a premade first aid kit and then adding any other items you may need. This strategy gives you a kit that’s easy to transport. Keep your kit in an accessible place and restock items if used.
Prepare basic disaster supplies
A disaster can leave you without transportation or unable to buy groceries. A basic disaster kit can help keep your family healthy if a disaster causes a disruption.
Here are some things to include in your kit:
- A first aid kit
- Drinking water
- Batteries and chargers or solar chargers
- A crank or battery-operated radio
- Non-perishable foods or canned foods
- Can opener
- Spare clothes and blankets
- Pet supplies
- A checklist of medications
You can’t pack medications you’re currently using in a disaster kit you may need later. Instead, keep an updated checklist so you can collect what you’ll need quickly.
Create a financial plan
We don’t like to consider the possibility, but accidents and disasters can result in death. Take some time to plan for the unexpected.
Purchase life insurance. A life insurance policy provides replacement income for your family. Most households have a mortgage or ongoing financial commitments. Families with children may need to provide income for up to 20 years or longer. Discuss your life insurance options with a trusted agent or broker.
Prepare a will. Often, people put off making a will until their sunset years. Accidents are a leading cause of death in younger people. Consider making a will now rather than later. If needed at some point, you can also revise your will.
Create a living will. Accidents or injuries may leave you unable to respond. A living will gives guidance to medical providers regarding your wishes for treatment. This step removes a decision burden from your family at an already difficult time.
When faced with danger, the body’s Fight-Flight-Freeze response may take over. In short, we may do one of those three things rather than address the situation calmly.
The Fight-Flight-Freeze response is a natural reaction to a threat. However, it’s also important to remain level-headed and maintain your decision-making ability.
Consider using these steps to regain your focus and maintain calm:
Take a few deep breaths, in through the nose, out through the mouth.
Focus on a calming word.
Close your eyes and visualize a peaceful scene.
Practicing these techniques regularly can improve your reaction to stressful situations.
Additional steps such as eating well, sleeping enough, and regular exercise can also help your body prepare for stressful situations.
Knowing who to ask for help
In an emergency, knowing where to turn for support is vital. Earlier, we discussed having a conversation with children about calling 911. But there may be friends, neighbors, or family you’ll want to contact as well.
Have a family meeting to discuss and decide who to call under which circumstances. Post the phone numbers in a common area.
You may also want to post the number for your regional poison control center.
Accidents, injuries, and disasters are part of life. Sometimes we can avoid these situations by exercising more care. In other cases, there is no way to prevent the situation. Instead, your preparedness plays a key role.
The difference between being prepared and being caught by surprise could affect the health and quality of life of someone you love. Learning the life skill of emergency preparedness is an investment in your family’s future and one that your children will pass on to their children as well.
About the Author
Gregory Rozdeba is President of Dundas Life, a digital insurance brokerage that uses technology to make buying life insurance simple.
He previously served as Director of Sales at a fintech firm where he took the company from no product to raising over $7M+ in funding and disrupting a 100-year-old industry.