Summer is the time of year when kids get to enjoy time off from the demands of school. Often this involves trips with their family, but sometimes kids also have the benefit of travelling with friends of their own, without their parents. In other cases, parents have the opportunity for time away for themselves, a rare chance to take vacations from both work and family. In either instance, minor children may be under the care and supervision of individuals who do not share familial ties.
While summer trips are often full of relaxation and fun, occasionally disaster strikes and they can require emergency services. Accidents happen, and when they do it is imperative that our minor children have immediate access to the necessary medical care available. Whether it be something as ‘routine’ as a broken bone, or more extreme like an accident at the beach, parents who are away from their children should take the necessary steps to ensure their child can receive the appropriate care, and that the individuals in whose care you entrusted your children have the necessary authorizations to consent to care until you arrive.
So, what are our summer travel tips for such situations?
- Consider the use of a short-term medical power of attorney, or health care consent, that designates the person with whom your child is travelling as a limited agent to provide medical consent when necessary for your child’s care;
- Consider a short-term guardianship document or letter that identifies the person or persons with whom your child will be staying. This document should clearly identify all adult individuals that may bear responsibility for your child while they are away from you.
- If you are the party who is leaving town, similar documents should be prepared and left with the responsible adult who will care for your child while you are away. If possible, advise your primary medical providers – pediatricians, dentists, etc. – so they are aware that third parties may be in contact with them in the event of an emergency. The medical providers might even have forms they’ll want you to use.
The most important thing to remember, as parents, is that we have the opportunity to address these situations before the emergency occurs. While we can hope that our children will never face such circumstances, or be forced to wait until parental consent can be provided, we can also be proactive in preparing for these situations. As you plan for your family travel plans, your children’s summer travel plans, and your own, be sure to consider short-term guardianship and health care consents. Don’t leave home without them!