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emergency contacts - does anyone else not have them?

26 replies

tigermoth · 26/05/2003 09:36

Whenever I get a form from school, nursery or work there's always one question I dread: who do we contact in an emergency?

With no family nearby, I am stuck and don't know what to put. It makes me feel that my sons, dh and I are a lot of billy-no-mates. Yes, of course we have local friends, but they all have busy lives and certainly couldn't drop everything to help us. And we have only lived here for three years, so really my local friends aren't in the old friend category. Everyone else seems to have a mother, an aunt, a friend from way back - as luck would have it, all my old friends - my surrogate family - have left London.

I feel too embarrassed to ask people who are hardly more than good acquantances if they would be an emergency contact. It's quite a responsibility after all. I could ask our son's old childminders, but again, I know there is nothing they could do if an emergency occurred and I suspect they might feel resentful I had asked them.

When I explain our family situation to the nursery etc, no one can believe we really don't have anyone to fall back on. I go away saying, oh yes, I'm sure I can think of someone, but knowing I can't. At the moment I have two forms waiting for my emergency contact details. I find it pretty upsetting.

I am wondering, what do others do here? am I the only one who dreads this question on forms?

OP posts:

codswallop · 26/05/2003 09:57

i was flattered when a mother - friend asked me to be emerg. contact.

i saw her a lot art the time but not so much now but still would be chuffed she thought i was reliable


codswallop · 26/05/2003 09:58

what about the mothers of dss's pals?


whymummy · 26/05/2003 10:00

im in the same situation tigermoth with no family around i used to worry about the same thing but then decided to ask one of the mums that lives just around the corner from the school and she was more than happy about it,even if you had family around the chances are that youll be the first one to get to the school,hospital or surgery in an emergency so try not to worry,if you know any of the other mums and maybe theyre a SAHM and live near the school they probably wont mind


Tinker · 26/05/2003 10:19

I'm in the same position as well Tigermoth. For work I put my mother which is ridiculous since she lives 40 miles away, can't drive and is in petty poor health. But, I suppose, she would need to be told if anything had happened to me. For my daughter I put her old childminder, really because I have no-one else to put. If anything happened to me she would look after her short-term. If anything happened to my daughter, well I'd be the emergency contact really. Stuck as well. Just cross my fingers they'll never be needed


ScummyMummy · 26/05/2003 10:25

Hi Tigermoth. Are you sure your local friends are so unwilling? I hope most people would be willing to rally round in an emergency. I think the question is only there so that if- God forbid- one of your sons was ill or had an accident and the school couldn't get hold of you or your dh immediately they could call someone to be with your son until one or both of you could be tracked down. I don't think you need a deep "family-like" connection with the person you name- it's actually quite unlikely that they would ever have to be called. I really don't think it's a huge imposition. I do appreciate that questions like this remind us of special and irreplaceable people whom we have lost, since they are the ones who instantly spring to our minds as the ones we would want to be there in an emergency but I think from the schools point of view it's more of an administrative thing- they don't want to be left in sole charge of an unwell child.
Is there anyone locally who you and your sons are particularly fond of, who they might find a reassuring presence for a short while in lieu of mum and dad, who you might find comforting in the stressful aftermath of a not so well boy? I'm sure it's a question of feeling that you've selected someone you trust and is reliable rather than them seeing it as a huge thing to ask.

(If you can't find someone who knows you all well who lives nearer, I'll do it if you like! I'd be perfectly prepared to be called on in an emergency. Honestly. But seeing as you and your family are rather lovely I'm sure that there are loads of others who'd be up for it too.)


mears · 26/05/2003 10:42

I am the emergency contact for a mum I met and the school and who I now meet for coffees etc. here are lots of people in your position so don't be embarrassed to ask a friend. I was also honoured to have been asked. HTH.


helenmc · 26/05/2003 10:48

Tigermoth - people are more than happy to help when really needed. When dd broke her arm last year and might need another op ( and hence overnight stay in hospital) I had so many offers of help from people I wouldn't have thought to ask. And hopefully you won't ever need to have to ask. Also why not offer your self as their emergency contact...they might not have any-one either.


runragged · 26/05/2003 11:04

Tigermoth, I moved to Oxford from London and knew no-one. I felt I had to be really outgoing at Playgroup picking up time always saying hi how are you etc, but now people start conversations with me. It is really hard to make new friends when many people have known each other for years but you do have something in common naturally and thats kids of similar ages. Most people would be pleased to help out as they know how important the children are. Also Scummymummy's right they are really unlikely to be called on.

Someone that I only know from the Playgroup gates asked me if I would mind if she called on me if she ever ended up carless in an emergency (she and dh share the car) I said yes and now we have coffee regularly so you see it was an ice breaker for friendship as well!


WideWebWitch · 26/05/2003 11:48

Hi Tigermoth, my situation isn't so different - my emergency contacts are, in order, me, dp, ex dh (200 miles away so he wouldn't be much help actually since they'd probably find me by the time he got here) and then my mum, 150 miles away. Hmm, looking at that, it's a pretty stupid list so I ought to change mine to local people too! I'd probably ask a friend but I have to say, the friends here don't fall into the old friend category either. So it's not a case of there being loads of helpful, close, nearby family for us either. I agree, the school and nursery just want a usually third person to call if they can't get you or your dh. It really is unlikely they'd ever be used so I really would ask someone who you trust and could get there quickly if necessary - they don't have to be that close I don't think. They will very likely never be called though.


WideWebWitch · 26/05/2003 11:50

And tigermoth, I'm sure you're not billy-no-mates and in an emergency I bet you'll find people are kinder than you'd expect


butterflymum · 26/05/2003 11:54

Hi all,

Just like to add that people really are willing to help if you just ask. We live away from family and find there are times when help/contact names are needed.

Last year, I was due to have my 3rd baby and neither of our families could manage to come and help. So, about a month ahead of the big day, I approached a few mums at Mother & Toddler and at school and hey presto, I had a list of 'emergency contacts' (some could only take either /or of the children, some could take both). When the time came it all worked really well (with a little help from a kindly neighbour who did the phoning around on the big day). As has already been said, this can even be an ice breaker and lead to new friendships.

Good luck in finding someone (or two, or three ...).


JJ · 26/05/2003 13:36

tigermoth, we've been in this situation a few times. At school, my son's emergency contact is one of my husband's coworkers who would either know where my husband is or be able to ring his wife to help us. In the worst case scenario, he could do whatever needs to be done himself. My son is at camp now and his emergency contact for that is another mother at the school.. mainly because it requires a car to get there and we've only got one (I have it).

I think most people are flattered to be asked, especially as chances are it'll never be needed. So they get to be very useful with very little work. That's how I'd feel, at any rate.. plus when it comes down to it, in an emergency people genuinely want to help.


suedonim · 26/05/2003 14:11

I'm another with no family available as emergency contacts so have had to ask people I don't know all that well. As with other experiences here, people seem pleased to be asked.

For my older dd's school in Scotland we must have a contact name in case of snow, when roads are closed and children unable to get home. The school holds a list of parents who are willing to act as emergency contacts, so if someone truly doesn't have anyone (eg has just moved to the area) they will be allocated someone from the list. In fact, maybe it is something that all schools should have anyway. There could be a bit to fill in on the registration form, where you can offer to be a contact.

BTW, with four children and in over 20 years of being 'in the system', I think our emergency contact has only been used once, when ds2 fell on ice and broke his tooth!


Marina · 26/05/2003 19:57

No you aren't Tigermoth. And after the upsetting phone conversation I had with my mother this very evening I don't think I'd want her on any form of mine even if she lived at the end of the road rather than 300 miles away... Ds' godparents, who are perhaps the only friends who would do this for us (as we would for them) are even further away in Edinburgh!
Bags of sympathy. We've been in our road for nearly three years too and still don't feel we have anyone we could call on either. I know it doesn't apply to you but I feel even more embarassed about offering a reciprocal arrangement because I can't drive, so minicabs and inevitable delays would result.
Perhaps the SE London Mumsnet Chapter should discuss this at the next meet-up and form a ring of solidarity...


tigermoth · 26/05/2003 21:19

It really is enlightening that so many of you say you'd be flattered if someone asked you to be an emergency contact. I truly hadn't thought of it in this light. I just didn't want to make anyone feel obligated to us. I assumed many people would start making excuses and look uncomfortable. No one has ever asked me to be an emergency contact - none of my potential emergency contacts seem to need me, so the deal would be one sided.

Anyway, I'll feel much more happy about approaching parents of my son's classmates, local friends and neighbours. It might even create or cement a friendship according to some of you. Hadn't thought of that either.

I think the trick is to have several contacts, so no one person feels the buck stops with them. As you say, it's unusual that any emergency contact will be called on, and most people want to help in emergencies. I think suedonim's school has the right idea - a parent volunteer is delegated by the school if the parents can't supply a contact themselves.

scummymummy, thanks for the kind offer to help. I hope I can get us sorted more locally, since I'd hate to think of you winging your way from your neck of the woods to mine. You are right, I find the emergency contact thing quite upsetting. It's always a reminder that there's no nanny and grandpa in the background. I even feel a passing but keen resentment with my parents for not providing me with siblings. It's silly because I know lots of people have unreliable or distant family. It's not as if my situation is so unusual.

Marina, things don't sound too good on the mother front. Sympathies with you and hope the conversation you mention, and its fall out, is not blighting your life too much. Thanks for thinking of me.

OP posts:

soyabean · 26/05/2003 21:26

Good luck Tigermoth. I dont have any family or old friends nearby either but plucked up the courage when my eldest was in nursery 8 years ago to ask the Mum of his friend who lives round the corner. We are really good friends now and are the emergency contacts for each other still, tho she has only once had to pick up one of my children and i have never been needed for hers, tho the school did phone me once to ask if I knew where she was (and I did!)
Chances are, as others have said, they will never be needed. It reminded me a bit of the 'who do we ask to be guardian of my children if we both die?' trauma, which is obviously even more unlikely to be needed and yet is something you kinda have to think about.


griffy · 26/05/2003 21:36

tigermoth - I'm in the same boat, and haven't supplied an emergency contact to DS's nursery, as there just isn't anyone I can think of at all. Everyone I know either works or lives at least 50 miles away.

I did consider asking others, but like you just didn't feel quite right about it. The other thing that bothered me, too, is that if DS had an accident, or I had had an accident and couldn't be there, I'd really want him to be familiar with whoever was - presumably - going to be there for him, and there are so few people that I think he knows well enough for them to be any use at all to him in those situations.

I also find it really hard to imagine a circumstance under which neither myself or DP could not be found or be present for him. Perhaps I need to give this some more thought.


hewlettsdaughter · 26/05/2003 21:45

I just want to add that we didn't supply emergency contacts to our nursery - our nursery manager didn't seem fazed.

Know what you mean about the guardian dilemma soyabean - I'm putting off making a will because of it (not good, I know).


soyabean · 26/05/2003 21:45

Griffy I suppose the thing is that if the situation was that serious and you really werent able to be found, then any friendly face would be better than no-one? Then again, I wonder whether the school/nursery would just keep the child there longer, unwell, if they knew there was no emergency contact. When school phoned my friend about my daughter being unwell, she was able to go in and pick her up and look after her till they got hold of dh (he was at home and just hadnt heard the answerphone message, so it wasnt long). But if she had been busy or out or whatever, I guess the school would just have kept her there for longer.


griffy · 26/05/2003 21:49

Good point Soyabean. I only really considered this when DS started nursery at 6 months. Now that he's 2.5, I think I need to revise my thinking. The only 'friendly face' he had at 6 months was me/DP whereas now, that's slightly different. Hmmm...


SueW · 26/05/2003 22:05

I'm fortunate that my mum lives nearby (four miles away) but if she needed to get here quickly at rush hour, it would take forever. So I have arranged with parents nearby that if I am unable to get to school for some reason, they are the emergency contact. They are all parents who DD knows well, as she has been to play with their children at their homes.

I am also contact for a couple of other parents as I live close and they live miles away. Luckily, in case of being stuck on the motorway/in traffic being the only problem, school has after-school care until 6pm at a reasonable rate but after that the cost jumps to £8/hour.


Batters · 27/05/2003 15:32

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Lindy · 27/05/2003 17:52

I agree with others - you just have to ask. I have mentioned this many times on Mumsnet but I also moved to a new area when I was pregnant and knew no one .... I just had to make the effort, make friends/contacts etc - I have no family or 'old friends' within 200 miles. DS was born with medical problems & I had an emergency C/S so I just had to ask for quite specific help, lifts when I couldn't drive etc....... I never felt that it was a problem (no one has 'dropped' me as a friend!), and I offer help back whenever I can.

Griffy - don't want to sound morbid but I can imagine quite a few scenarios when DH & I might not be available for our DS. I often think 'what would happen if I (or both of us) were run over by a bus' - that's why I think it is essential to have emergency contacts/guardians etc all arranged. Sadly, I do know of two or three examples where precisely the worse happened.

I really think people do like to be asked - I now have a few friends who are 'emergency' contacts and likewise I do the same for them.


hewlettsdaughter · 27/05/2003 18:56

Batters - it's not just London. Surely this situation has come about because people are generally more mobile than was once the case - you move away from your immediate family, friends etc. Though I like the idea of making friends by asking people if they wouldn't mind helping out.


codswallop · 27/05/2003 19:24

we made our will s and my brother - our solicitor! - said that you dont need to specify in the will who it would be - just let both sides of your family know..
often chuckle at the thought of my sisters tidy 2 kid family beibg increased ny my 3 boys...

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