Tips To Prepare For Your Emergency Room Visit

Last week was a crazy week for this Momma Bear!  I had to take both kids to the emergency room for different reasons.  Different hospitals on different days.  When the pediatrician sent me to the emergency room with M-Bear, he was convinced that surgery would be needed that day.  Thank goodness it wasn’t! But if it had been, I was secure in the knowledge that I was already prepared for a hospital stay. Let me share some tips to help you prepare for an emergency room visit, with or without your kids.

person writing a checklist


Create a checklist of all the items you would need for a hospital stay with your child.  Better yet, download the free checklist I have created for you!  Having a checklist laid out ahead of time ensures that you don’t forget anything in the crazy rush to get to the hospital.  Make sure that you not only have everything you need for your child but also that you have everything also.  You don’t want to be scrambling in the hospital to find your medication only to realize that you didn’t pack it.

To-Go Bag

An emergency bag is a must for any family member who will be accompanying a loved one to the hospital.  Make sure that the bag is packed with all of the supplies you will need for your stay. Include clothes, snacks, water flavoring/coffee/tea makings, and medications if necessary.    I also like to pack some activities and toys for my kiddos in case they get bored in the hospital.  Having something to do other than watch TV can help make their experience more pleasant.

girl in red shirt lying on bed reading book

Social Stories

If social stories work for your loved one, prepare some ahead of time.  You can have one that talks about taking a ride in an ambulance, arriving at the ER, and what to expect while you are there.  Another one could talk about possible surgeries or procedures they may have. has a list of some programs, both free and paid, that you can use to create social stories.  

Anything you can do ahead of time to prepare your child for a stay in the hospital will help them to remain calm during a potentially scary situation.


We all know that it is important to have a list of medications, supplements, their strengths, dosages, and schedules handy to give the nurses upon check-in.  It can also be important to bring any of your child’s medications with you if they are rare ones that the hospital may not be able to acquire easily.  For us, one of my son’s seizure medications is not available at our secondary hospital.  So I know that anytime we are heading to that ER, to pack a bottle of that medication in case we get admitted.

As for the medication list, I just use an excel spreadsheet that has the medication name, strength, and when it is given and with what dosage along with what that medication is used for.  It is so nice to just hand that list to our nurse and let her enter it into their system vs. me having to recite, line by line, all of his medications.  Be sure to include any vitamins or supplements that you may use.  We use Vitamin B complex, Flaxseed oil, Vitamin D and Simethicone.

Special food/formula

If your loved one is on any time of special food or formula, you might consider bringing a supply from home.  Especially during our current formula shortage.  The formula shortage isn’t just affecting neurotypical baby formula but also medical formulas for those that use gastronomy tubes for their nutrition.

I usually pack enough for 2 feeding with us and have my husband bring more the next day if we get admitted.  Last year, we were in-patient in our secondary hospital for 5 weeks.  It took about 3 weeks before they were able to get their first shipment of my son’s formula, and that didn’t last for our full stay.  So I just know that if we are going to that hospital, we will have to provide the formula ourselves and not depend upon the hospital.


I spent over 11 total weeks in the hospital with my oldest son in 2021 during one of the COVID surges.  The hospital allowed me to stay in the room with him but they frowned on me roaming around unless I was going for a walk outside.  I didn’t do that too often because there were a couple of times I didn’t think the security guard was going to let me back in!

After the first couple of days and the stress level has gone down a bit, I was going stir crazy stuck in that room!  To help, I had my husband bring my work laptop so I could do a little bit of work during the downtime. I went to the hospital and purchased a couple of variety puzzle books and I had the hubby bring my Kalimba also {insert picture}.  I have also been known to bring crochet projects, art supplies, and my iPad just so I could have a variety of things to keep me occupied.

For my son, I brought a couple of special toys and his iPad so he could rock out to his 80s heavy metal as well as his favorite blanket.

adult fawn pug

Comfort Items

Regardless of whether you are the patient or not, we all need some comfort items from home. For me, I bring my favorite tea bags, a blanket, and a pillow.  Being able to snuggle up in that blanket when my world is falling apart around is a mental health necessity.  We all know hospital pillows are a joke! I have a bad neck so it is essential for me to keep my neck in alignment.  Bring whatever is going to bring you and/or your child comfort.  It could be a favorite stuffed animal (Yes, you, Mom, I see you with that teddy bear!  Bring it, and don’t worry about what others think!), blanket, toy, game, etc.

Comfort items make scary things seem not so bad and can bolster our flagging mental health.  

“By Failing To Prepare, You Are Preparing To Fail,” – Benjamin Franklin

Nobody wants to take their child or loved one to the hospital. But it is better to be prepared ahead of time than to try to scramble in the moment. If that happens, you hope that you remembered everything!  Download my free To-Go Bag checklist. Create a list of things to pack. What would you want to take if you were stuck in the hospital for a week or two?

Grab a backpack or tote bag, pack it with your items and store it in your closet until needed.  One hack I will share with you is to pack a fabric softener sheet. Put it in your to-go bag so your clothes smell fresh.  I just spent 2 days in ICU with my oldest. When I pulled a clean set of clothes out of my bag, they were FUNKY!!!

green and brown backpack on rock
This is about the size of the backpack I used. I can get about 5 days’ worth supplies in it

Final tips to prepare for an ER/hospital stay

Another tip I will share with you is compression packing cubes.  They are amazing!!  I just bought a set from Amazon to use for my backpack.  I bought a set of 5 but only used 3.  1 for my blanket, 1 for shirts, and 1 for leggings and underwear.

Now when we are in-patient, I don’t have to totally unpack my bag to get to my toiletry bag at the bottom and then pack it up again.  Now I can pull out the packing cubes and even leave them out without my area looking like a total disaster area.  Check them out, they are so worth it for those of us that spend a lot of time in hospitals!

Think small and lightweight

And my final tip for preparing for an emergency room trip is when packing clothes, yes, use compression packing cubes, but also think about WHAT you are packing.

I am always warm, even in a hospital so to save room, I pack tank tops and leggings or jeggings.  I also throw in a pair of ballet flats because I get tired of wearing tennis shoes all the time.  Pack small, lightweight clothes so they don’t take up much room.  If need be, pack 1 sweater or sweatshirt.  But remember, whatever goes into that to-go bag, you are going to have to be lugging around.  If you have a bad back, you could also get a rolling overnight bag.

If you have any tips that you have learned over the years, share them below.  I am always looking for new hacks!

Love to all the fellow Momma & Poppa Bears out there!
~ Zilla Q

Check out some of my other posts:
5 Ways to stay cool this summer
How to survive when in crisis

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