Thursday, October 18, 2001
Keeping emergency phone numbers handy

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital

Emergency phone numbers are very important. You do not want to have to look them up when you need them. There are different ways of knowing emergency phone numbers. The best way is to keep it simple. This is the logic behind the national “911” effort. If you only have to dial one number nationally, it is easier. If that number is a short one, it is easy to remember. We have done a good job of educating people for 911 emergencies.

A second way to handle this is to have the emergency number loaded into the speed dial feature of a telephone. This can be now done with many different types of phones. Home phones can do it. Cellular phones can do it. Home alarm systems also have a speed dial feature built into them. The key to the success of speed dialing numbers is to have them loaded ahead of time. It does no good if you wait until an emergency occurs.

Another method of using emergency numbers is looking them up in the phone book. The Telephone Company helps in this process by having the numbers available on the first page of the phone book. However, you need to have the book nearby to use it. You may just have a copy of that page nearby. If you have two telephones in the house, the emergency numbers should be near both of them. It does you no good if you have to go to another part of the house to look up the number.

One of the phone numbers that is good to have handy is the poison control number. It frequently is difficult to find. The good news is that it is on the page of emergency numbers in the phone book. It is even highlighted there. However, it is not likely to be one of the speed dial numbers in people’s phones. If they have children, it should be. Even physicians and emergency departments (ED) depend on the poison control line for information. Therefore, if you think it might be easier to call your doctor or ED for poisoning information, they will have to check with the poison line, too. It is better to cut out the middleman and call yourself.

The poison control centers have decided to try and make things easier for their callers. For that reason, they have come up with a new national poison control number. It is one that you should write down now. It is one that you should add to the front of your phone book. It is one that you should add to the speed dial function of your telephone. The number is 1-800-222-1222. Make a note of it.

The Fire Department suggests that you practice at home fire evacuation drills on a regular basis. You should feel the same way about emergency numbers. Make sure that they are readily available when you do not need them. That way you can be sure that they are indeed available when you do need them. The time to do that is now while you still have this article in hand.

Dr. Anthony Policastro is medical director at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital.

Alzheimer’s Caregivers Support Group meeting
Alzheimer’s Caregivers Support Group meet each month on the second Tuesday, at 1:30 p.m. This is a support group for people who are caring for family members with Alzheimer’s disease. The group meets at the Methodist Manor House, 1001 Middleford Road, in Seaford. Th next meeting will be on Nov. 13. Call (302) 629-4593 for more information. There is no fee.