Would you tweet in an emergency?

There’s a funny scene in the British sitcom the IT Crowd when one of the geek characters accidentally starts a fire. His response is to email the Fire brigade: ‘Fire! Help! Fire!’ While that’s an exaggeration of contemporary life, it does have some truth in it.

Recently, a friend asked on Twitter for advice on what to do if she’s going into anaphylactic shock, which she was. (She survived!) This revealed the extent to which we rely on the internet for information and support. If you’re habitually online, it’s common to punch odd phrases such as ‘purple rash on left elbow’ or ‘toy robot lodged in nose - how to remove’ into search engines and expect that somewhere in the wild web an answer will exist. Often, for most questions we ask, an answer (or, confusingly, a variety of differing opinions) exists, but we forget about low-tech.

That means calling your pediatrician late at night, or heading to the emergency room in a hurry. Information can’t take the place of trained medical professionals. Occasionally, we head to the emergency room, only to be given the medical equivalent of a soothing pat and a bottle of infant pain medication, but there are times when a few minutes could save a life.

It’s often the times when you need it most that connectivity and technology fail us. Maybe you hit your internet cap uploading photos of your child’s birthday party, or possibly you used the last of your airtime asking your partner to bring home pizza.

I can remember my mum insisting when I was young that I always have a coin on me for an emergency call from a phone booth. That’s not such bad advice. There are a couple of things you could consider doing to avoid a tech-fail:
  • Always have enough airtime, or an emergency sim card for your phone. Carrying a spare charger or car charger isn’t a bad idea, either.
  • Make sure you have emergency contact numbers updated and saved.
  • If you have more than one child and may need a sitter, or you don’t have your own car, it may be useful to ask a friend to be on stand-by, in case you need to spend a couple of hours in a hospital waiting room.
  • It’s useful to know basic first aid, but make sure that you have a contact number (and an alternative number) for your GP or pediatrician.
  • If either your child or you have a chronic medical condition, ensure that your friends and family know what to do in an emergency.
  • Teach your child their own contact number and also an emergency contact number, too.
Most of that seems like common sense, but when there’s a problem with breathing, an accident victim or a raging fever, common sense is not always available in large quantities.

Basic rule? Always make sure you have a back-up plan, and don’t rely on dubious sources for information or fallible technology when it comes to your child’s health and safety.

Where’s the first place you would turn for help?
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