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I'm a paediatrician and a mom and these are the 9 things I have in my emergency kit at home — and 2 things I don't

Kelly Fradin , Business Insider US
 Dec 21, 2019, 09:39 AM
Pediatrician and mother Kelly Fradin shares the nine items she keeps at home to keep her kids safe and healthy.
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  • There's no way to prevent children from getting sick, and getting little bumps, and scrapes. The key is being prepared for these painful - and tear-filled- moments.
  • Paediatrician and mother Kelly Fradin shared the nine things she keeps in her "emergency kit" at home and the two items she never buys.
  • Some of those items include, generic over-the-counter medications, a tweezer, various types of Band-Aids, a flashlight, and a suction device - which she advises to keep out of the bathroom.
  • For more stories go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage.

When you have children at home, you have to be prepared for the worst, or at the very least, the extremely inconvenient. Whether it's a gash on the head from jumping off the couch, a strange-textured rash, a nagging cold, or nasty stomach virus, your children will inevitably experience it all. Being prepared will make each of these situations less terrifying, and much more manageable.

As a pediatrician, and a mom of two, I'm all too aware of how important it is to have an emergency kit on hand at home. Mine is packed with supplies that will get me through my worst nightmare, and the standard day-to-day illnesses.

Here are the nine essentials I recommend every household have to cover most emergencies - plus, two things to avoid.


Keep a list of emergency phone numbers and personal contacts in an accessible place.

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Jot down your emergency contacts - your pediatrician, Poison Control and at least two local emergency contacts. Place the list in a visible, and accessible place, perhaps on the refrigerator. While you are at it, place a copy in each of your children's backpacks.

Before leaving a new babysitter in your home, show them where this list (and your emergency kit) is.


Stock up on over-the-counter medication for fever and pain, and confirm the right doses.

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For fevers, teething, pain, and run-of-the-mill sicknesses, stock up on Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen, which are commonly used and safe medications.

However, don't administer Acetaminophen for babies younger than 3 months without consulting your pediatrician. Ibuprofen can't be used until after a baby turns 6 months. At each well visit, ask your doctor about appropriate doses, since packaging instructions don't always have that information available for young babies.

When giving liquid medications, measure the amount in milliliters, not teaspoons.

Just so you know, generic medications in these cases are as effective as brand name medications. Typically, infant medication is more expensive and comes with a syringe, instead of a cup. (Pro tip: I buy children's medication and ask a friendly pharmacist for a medication syringe).


Get nasal saline for stuffed noses and use a suction device for little babies.

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One of the fastest and most effective remedies for congestion from viruses and allergies is nasal saline. The spray can thin out thick secretions, so children can breathe better.

Saline also promotes a healthy nasal mucosa, which is the tissue that lines the nasal cavity, and protects against irritants and illnesses.

Small babies may benefit from suctioning after, too. You can use a bulb syringe or the Nose Frida for this. But try not to overdo it, since too much suctioning or going too deep into the nostrils can cause more irritation.


Tend to boo-boos with basic soap and water, but have a variety of bandages on hand.

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When your child gets a a skinned knee or a minor cut, you may not necessarily need special disinfecting products. The best thing to do is to simply wash thoroughly with soap and water.

Then, apply an antibacterial cream - bacitracin is my favourite - and some gauze or a Band-Aid. If it takes a few days to heal, you can switch over to keeping the injured area moist with Vaseline, which promotes healing and prevents scars. It can also reduce the itching sensation.

It's worth noting that the adhesive on Band-Aids is a very common skin irritant. If you or your kids are sensitive, try different types of bandages, or you can just use gauze and paper tape.


A solid pair of tweezers and a nail clipper are invaluable tools.

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You never know when a splinter, a dirty scrape or a tick bite may require tweezers. Hangnails and ingrown nails can also be treated with a nail scissors or clippers. Plus, keeping your kids' nails short is always a good preventative measure. Just be sure to clean and dry these instruments after each use.


Use Vaseline for a standard itch and have some basic creams for irritating bug bites.

When your child has a generic itch, sometimes an ointment like Vaseline can help when applied generously twice a day. If it's not enough, or if your child has a particularly angry bug bite, Calamine lotion or an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream may help. Hydrocortisone cream should not be used on the face or genitals without a doctor's guidance.

But if you are using any medicated cream for more than five days in the same spot, you should speak with a doctor, who may recommend something stronger or different to help.


Keep a flashlight handy, in case the lights go out.

If the power goes out during a storm or earthquake, you'll want to know exactly where your flashlight is, so you can get around the house with ease. (It will also help you sneak around at night if you are helping a sick kid).


Get fire extinguishers, carbon dioxide and smoke detectors — and make sure they work.

Equip your home with smoke and carbon dioxide detectors, and place a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and near any fireplaces. These devices expire at some point, so don't forget to replace when necessary. Having a fire drill is also a good idea for kids, too.


Skip the cough syrup, and use honey instead.

Honey has been proven to be safer and more effective than cough medication for kids. (Be mindful that children less than 1 year old can't have honey). Cough medication should not be given to children younger than 6.

There are a few "cough syrups" that are actually composed of honey, and these are good choices. Throat lozenges can be choking hazards for kids under 4.

Mentholated rubs may soothe congestion, but stronger fragrances can bother children who are sensitive. If your child has asthma or reactive airway disease, remember that a cough may be one of the symptoms and asthma inhalers may help.


As a precaution, toss leftover and expired medications.

Because so many children's medications are liquids, they tend to expire sooner than medication for adults. Every once in a while, take inventory of the cabinets and throw out medicines that are no longer useful. If you have leftover prescription medication, it's best to discard it safely.


First, put your emergency kit in a safe place where the items won't get damaged.

As a reminder, kids are curious, and quick. It's best to keep any medicine or sharp instruments out of reach. While the bathroom is usually the traditional spot for these items, the humidity and heat can affect medications and bandages over time. Instead, place your emergency kit in your kitchen, and make sure it's on a high shelf. As an added precaution, purchase a first aid guide book or keep this free first aid guide from the American Academy of Pediatrics handy for emergencies.

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