The last thing anyone wants to think about is having to make a trip to the ER. But at some point, many of us will have to do just that. I found myself taking both my daughter and my mother to the emergency room within a couple of weeks of each other. I wished I’d had a hospital go-bag packed and ready.
Many families have an emergency family binder with important information in case of an emergency. We create wills. But I’ve realized one thing we often aren’t prepared to do is grab exactly what we need, head to the hospital and not need to call family or friends asking them to deliver all the items we forgot later.
Here’s the thing about an emergency: You won’t have time to be particular about what you’re going to bring with you to the hospital. You likely won’t be able to think about much other than getting your loved one or yourself the help needed. The best thing you can do for yourself and your loved one is to have a hospital “go bag” ready. Maybe you will still forget it but it will be there for your partner or a loved one to grab and bring to you.
I’ve had friends call or message me frantically as they prepared for unexpected trips to the hospital asking what they need to bring. Why are they calling me? Because I’ve done the whole “we have to go to the hospital right now” thing enough times to know what will be needed and wanted once you or your loved one is admitted.
My experience in spending time in the hospital myself and as a caregiver has taught me there are common items that are always requested. These items may seem obvious in hindsight but are not so easy to remember in a rush. For example, you will need a phone charger which may seem obvious but you’re also going to want the longest charging cable you have. The outlet is inevitably behind the hospital bed and the patient is often tethered to tubes and IVs. The charger should have plenty of give so they can easily use their phone and then set it back on the tray table.
Here’s what you need in your Hospital Go-Bag
- Travel toothbrush and toothpaste
- Advil or Aspirin (this is for the caregiver, not the patient)
- Inexpensive device chargers with long cables
- Lotion and chapstick
- Contacts case, glasses, glasses case
- Sunglasses for the ride home
- $20 in small bills (parking is generally a few dollars and it’s helpful to have a little cash in case card machines aren’t working)
- Pocket tissue packs
- Feminine pads
- Small box of crayons and a coloring book for children
- A magazine or light book
- Notepad and pens
- Comfortable flip flops or house shoes
- Comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for the ride home
- 2 large Ziploc bags and 1 or 2 grocery bags or totes
- Brush, comb, or pick
- Travel shampoo and soap
- Hair ties, headscarf/wrap, or a hat
You can have one hospital go bag with the appropriate items for every family member or individual bags for each of you. Just be sure to check the bag every 6 months so you have correct sizes for your children. These are all the items I have ever been sent in search of, asked to bring or wished I had remembered when caring for a loved one in the hospital.
It is my sincere hope that you never actually need a hospital go-bag. It gives me peace of mind to know that mine is ready to go. And I want you to have that peace of mind too if it is helpful for you. I keep our hospital go-bag in our entry closet, ready to grab on the way out the door.