March 25, 2010

BE PREPARED: Safety First

Just because we’ve had children, doesn’t mean we remember what to do in emergencies...of many kinds. So, if you’re going to take care of your great/grandchildren, at any time, you’ll probably need to refresh your skills, either by taking a class and/or reading up on current emergency procedures, such as CPR and first aid. Check your local community resources for classes…stay up to date on this…for your great/grandchildren and the rest of your family.

This may all sound boring and useless, UNTIL it’s NOT! When emergencies occur, adrenaline kicks in, and sometimes our brains forget the obvious. So, as the Girl/BoyScouts, Bluebirds, Campfire Girls and Tom Leher say: “BE PREPARED”!!!

We always advocate for balance and communication with your
great/grandchildren. Without being preachy, when it comes to safety, might we suggest that you establish routines that maintain your sanity while modeling safe behavior for them. This includes: crossing the streets, getting out of cars, slamming/closing car doors, playground protocol and safety, kitchen and bathroom hazards, etc. This all sounds daunting, but in fact, it’s part of daily living. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

We’ve listed some of the most common emergencies that can affect you and your charges. Since we’re not doctors or EMT’s, we’ve given the basics, but it’s best to visit these or other websites that can give you more detailed information. It might be good to print and post these on your already overcrowded refrigerator or bulletin board, along with the emergency phone numbers you already have hanging there. Also, be sure to have a filled out EMERGENCY FORM from your children, in case you are the person who needs to make a medical emergency decision.

Aside from the normal emergency contact information page showing the pediatrician, dentist, etc. here is an example of a medical release form you should keep around. Printable at:

Consent for Medical and/or Emergency Treatment**

I, ______________, hereby voluntarily consent to the rendering of such care, including diagnostic procedures, surgical & medical treatment & blood transfusions, by medical doctors, hospitals or their authorized designees, as may in their professional judgement be necessary to provide for the medical, surgical or emergency care of my
(hereafter “dependent”) – Full Name

I further give my consent to ________________________________________
(hereafter “caregiver”) – Full Name

who will be caring for my dependent for the period ________________ through _________________, to arrange for routine or emergency medical and/or dental care and treatment necessary to preserve the health of my dependent. In the event that my dependent is injured or ill while under the care of the caregiver, I hereby give permission to the caregiver to provide first aid for said dependent and to take the appropriate measures, including contacting the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) system and arranging for transportation to the nearest emergency medical facility.

In making medical decisions on my behalf for the benefit of my dependent, I direct that the caregiver attempt to contact me. However, if medical care becomes essential, I give permission to the caregiver to make such decisions regarding such treatment as deemed appropriate by the medical doctor, hospital or their authorized designee. In furtherance of any treatment decisions to be made by the caregiver on my behalf for the benefit of my dependent, I authorize the caregiver to request, obtain, review and inspect any and all information bearing upon my dependent’s health and relevant to any such decisions to be made respecting such treatment.

I acknowledge that no guarantees have been made to me as to the effect of such examinations or treatment on the condition of my dependent and that I am responsible for all reasonable charges in connection with the care and treatment rendered to my dependent during this period.
Signature of Legal Guardian ____________________
Witness ____________________________
Name ________________________________
Address __________________Phone______________
Name of dependent __________________________
Phone _________________________________
Allergies ______________________________
Health Insurance Carrier __________________________
Health Insurance Policy # and Group # _______________
Personal Care Physician _________________
Address _________________Phone __________________
Medications dependent is taking _________________
Date of last tetanus booster __________________
Dentist ____________________________________
Address ________________Phone __________________
**This is only an example of a consent form. You should consult an attorney if you think such a legal document might be right for you. Family HealthSource(March, 1999)

We have all either experienced or read about these devastating occurrences. Check with your local city/county governments for safety and disaster procedures and discuss them with your family. Although these kinds of disasters will vary by where you live, here’s something you can take control of and do yourself, ahead of any type of emergency. When these disasters happen, families are desperate to know that everyone is safe. Creating a “communication tree” is an essential way to keep family members informed.

Identify one or two people, OUTSIDE of your immediate area, that will act as “command central”. It may be easier to call long distance, than to call your neighbor when these things happen. In our personal experience, with earthquakes in Los Angeles, the phones, land and cell, worked for at least a few moments after the event, and then either broke-down or got jammed by too many callers. In the first moments, we called a relative in Northern California who was our pre-planned contact person. Some of us lost phone connections shortly after we advised her that we were ok, but at least she was able to tell others that we were safe. This “communication tree” is simple, effective and can help your family stay in the know. For more information on Earthquakes, Fires, Floods, Hurricanes, etc. visit:

Keep this number handy. It operates 24/7/365 and they can tell you how to take action immediately 1-800-222-1222 and/or call 911
Below, we’ve listed the basic information supplied by the American Association of Poison Control. Be sure to visit their website and download the information they make available.
Poison Prevention Tips from the American Assoc. of Poison Control
Store Poisons Safely

• Store medicines and household products locked up, where children cannot see or reach them.
• Store poisons in their original containers.
• Use child-resistant packaging. But remember —nothing is child-proof!
Use Poisons Safely
• Read the label. Follow the directions on medicines and products.
• Are children around? Take the product or medicine with you to answer the door or the phone.
• Lock products and medicines up after using them.
• Is it medicine? Call it medicine, not candy.
• Children learn by imitation. Take your medicines where children can’t watch.
Teach Children to Ask First
• Poisons can look like food or drink. Teach children to ask an adult before eating or drinking anything.
First Aid for Poisoning - Call 1-800-222-1222 AND/OR 911

With all of the toys and toy recalls, mostly from products made outside of the U.S., the Consumer Product Safety Commission site offers ongoing, updated information about toy safety. It’s a great site to bookmark!

It also has a great list of how to choose suitable toys for kids, called
“Which Toys For Which Child Ages 0-5”
“Which Toys For Which Child Ages 6-12

Last, but certainly not least, everyone NEEDS to wash hands!!! This is the easiest and most essential way to prevent spreading illness, especially among children and their caregivers. Model it and insist and expect the children to do the same!!!

So, now that we’re all prepared, take a break and relax! Being PREPARED takes a lot of energy!

March 5, 2010


Are you tired of hearing all about “me, me, me”, in conversations with friends and family? In these times of economic stress, it’s understandable for everyone to be focused on themselves. BUT, we know from past experiences, that thinking and caring about others goes a long way in balancing gloomy feelings and helps us feel hopeful. Learning to care can start as early as infancy.

Empathy & Compassion
Empathy & compassion are poignant words. Compassion is the awareness of another’s situation and a wish to make it better. Empathy is understanding another’s feelings and what that person is going through. It’s literately like "walking in someone else’s shoes". Children often try “walking in our shoes”, literally, to experience what that feels like. This is a simple form of empathy….especially when they try on women’s spiked heels with pointed toes…OUCH!

How do kids begin to display empathy and compassion? Infants respond to faces and sounds, so if you are sad, the infant may respond accordingly and also might giggle in response to a caregiver’s laugh. Toddlers may show empathy by trying to comfort a sibling or friend, who is crying or frightened…”Emily looks sad”. Many show their compassion by trying to be soothing, even if the adult is just pretending to be hurt or sad. School-age children can pick up spoken and unspoken signals of distress or sorrow and may respond with empathy: trying to comfort and take care of the adult, etc. Developing empathy and compassion starts at a young age, and hopefully continues to expand throughout our entire lives.

You ask: “What has all of this got to do with great/grandparenting?” Great/grandparents can see that some kids have these sensibilities, and others don’t. We can help stimulate these qualities through modeling…NOT clothes, but ACTIONS.

Case In Point
We can all recall someone from decades ago whose kindness we still remember. Many situations allow us to model compassion and empathy.

• You are in the market with your great/grandchild, and see a shorter person trying to get something off the top shelf. You can offer to help that person get the item. It’s as simple as that!!!

• There’s a campaign to help others in need (New Orleans, Haiti, Chile, flood, fire and/or neighbors in need). Choose something of value to YOU and put it in a donation box. Then ask your great/grandchild to pick a toy or something of THEIRS (from YOUR home, of course) to add to the collection. You’re giving something of importance and asking the children to do the same. If you don’t live close to your great/grandchildren, you can talk about this on the phone, skype, in the mail, and then pool the items to be sent.

• For children who have a piggy bank and/or older children who get allowances, suggest putting aside some amount of money, on a regular basis, that can then be sent off to others, as a donation. You might want to contribute to the fund, as well. This can be an ongoing project that you can do together, even if you don’t live in the same city.

All of these situations offer an opportunity to talk about compassion and empathy. Ask your great/grandchild how they would feel if they were “walking in the shoes” of others, and how they would offer to help out. Talk to them about how caring can be both concrete and emotional and how helping others can make you and the other person/people feel better.

Empathetic and compassionate children are more likely to be tolerant, open-minded adults!

In case you’re looking for interesting places to donate money with your great/grandchildren, where you will get feedback about your donation, might we suggest the following:

HEIFER INTERNATIONAL - Hiefer helps children and families around the world receive training and animal gifts that help them become self-reliant. You can give small or large amounts (starting at $10). This is about giving the gift of self reliance to struggling people all over the world. Everyone deserves the dignity of providing for themselves and their families.

KIVA - KIVA links "micro-bankers" like you and me with screened "micro-preneurs" in the developing world (and now even in the U.S.). You can lend as little as $25 in capital to the Kiva applicant of your choice. When the money is paid back, you can withdraw your original investment, donate it to Kiva or lend it to another needy applicant. As of November 2009, Kiva has facilitated over $100 million in loans.

MOMSRISING.ORG Where moms and people who love them go to change our world. Working to build a nation where children, parents, and businesses thrive; and end discrimination against mothers. listens to members and focuses advocacy where they can most quickly improve family economic security. M.O.T.H.E.R.S stands for: Maternity & Paternity Leave; Open Flexible Work: TV & After School; Healthy Kids; Excellent Childcare: Realistic & Fair Wages; Sick Days, Paid.

SAVE THE CHILDREN – Creating lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. The priorities are to ensure that children in need grow up protected and safe, educated, healthy and well-nourished, and able to thrive in economically secure households. In 2009, the “Rewrite the Future” campaign reached more then 12 million children in conflict affected countries with access to improved education.