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SGEM Xtra: Top 10 Emergency Department Tips for Families

SGEM Xtra: Top 10 Emergency Department Tips for Families

Podcast Link: SGEM Xtra Top 10 List

Date: July 5th, 2016

Guest Skeptic: Dr. Rodrick Lim. Rod is the Chair for the Pediatric section of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, and the standards lead for the Pediatric section of International Federation for Emergency Medicine. He is an associate professor of Pediatrics at Western University, Schulich School of Medicine. Rod is also the proud father of three children and loves travelling, suffering as a Toronto sports fan and playing hockey badly with colleagues.

This is a SGEM Xtra. Some extra content for the summer until we formally launch Season#5 this fall.

The Pediatric Section of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP) and the National Emergency Nurses Association (NENA) recently released some tips to keep your family safe and prepared.

You can print a PDF of the Top 10 ED Tips for Families and stick on your fridge, talk to your children, share with your school, co-workers, neighbours and friends, and post to your social media accounts. It is available in ENGLISH and FRENCH.

If you have any questions about this list please contact Dr. Lim at media@caep.ca


Top 10 Emergency Department Tips for Families


Dr. Rodrick Lim

Dr. Rodrick Lim

Listen to the podcast to hear Dr. Lim expand on each of these issues.

#10 Vaccinate your children.

There has been an unfortunate & unnecessary return of preventable diseases (e.g. measles, mumps, whooping cough) in Canada over the last few years. These illnesses always find a way into our EDs and our waiting rooms. Protect the very young & the very old in your community (who are the ones most at risk) by ensuring your children all get vaccinated. It’s the right thing to do and, quite simply, it saves lives.

#9 Be a safety role model to your children and promote injury prevention.

A really big part of keeping your child out of the ED in the first place is to teach them to make smart decisions about preventing injuries before they happen. Choosing to always wear a seatbelt, a helmet, and a life jacket is a good start. And PLEASE don’t text & drive – distraction is the #1 killer on the roads! These actions alone can save hundreds of lives across Canada EVERY year.

#8 Promote healthy activities in your family.

Healthy children & adults recover faster from the illnesses and injuries that bring them to the ED. It’s important to balance “screen time” with physical exercise; this applies to both your children and YOU!

#7 Talk to your children about mental wellness.

Be alert to the signs of depression, anxiety or change in mood. Get your primary care provider involved as early as possible and ask them about additional resources available in your community.

#6 Keep all medications and household chemical products in a safe location.

It’s also helpful to keep the phone number for your local Poison Control Centre in an easily accessible location, like the fridge door. Young children can easily mistake pills for candy and sometimes it only takes one pill to kill. If you think your child has taken something, please remember to bring all the suspected bottles or containers to the ED.

#5 If your child has a serious allergy or medical condition, teach them to how to manage their symptoms independently.

Chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes are better controlled over the long term if you and your child are both familiar with how to use medications. Medic alert bracelets are also a good investment as they inform ED staff of your child’s medical condition(s) when you can’t be there to speak for them.

#4 Remain calm and patient when visiting the Emergency Department.

We all know the ED can be a frightening and busy place & your child will be learning from your behaviour about how to react to their injury or illness. It’s always useful to bring books, games or toys as tools for distraction. ED Staff will work hard to treat pain quickly and alleviate other symptoms when possible, but be prepared for sicker children or adults to be seen ahead of your child.

#3 Learn the basics of first aid.

Keep a first aid kit at home and in your car. Simple techniques for cleaning, bandaging & splinting injuries will keep your child more comfortable while waiting to see a nurse or a doctor.

#2 Find the time for you and your family 
to take a CPR course. 


In many cases, CPR will be the one true life-saving measure you can offer someone before the ambulance arrives. It really does make a difference.

#1 Teach your children how (and when) 
to dial 9-1-1.

Be sure to also teach them your home address and how to open any locked doors to allow access for paramedics. Did you know that cell phones can make emergency calls without requiring the owner’s password? Learn how!

Click to get the ENGLISH version or the FRENCH version of the Top 10 ED Tips for Families. We hope everyone has a safe and healthy summer.


Remember to be skeptical of anything you learn, even if you heard it on the Skeptics’ Guide to Emergency Medicine.


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