Preparing for Family Emergencies with Cloud Computing

by Linsey Knerl on 19 November 2010 (6 comments)
Photo: aphrodite74

Parents these days have a lot of important information to keep track of. Thankfully, cloud computing is right there to help, offering free and innovative tools for getting just the right piece of info — when you need it! Here are some of the most practical and simple ways to get your family's vital stats stored safely online, along with tips for retrieving it quickly!

Medical Records

Dad usually takes his daughter to her doctor's visits and is familiar with her medical history, but is out of town on business. Mom is left to take her in, but doesn't know how to answer all those questions on the emergency care admittance forms. How can she be sure that she has all the correct information at hand?

We are entering an age where most all of our important medical information will soon be available in electronic format for quick transfers between patient, doctor, and emergency care provider. In the meantime, parents can take measures into their own capable hands by storing much-needed health info as online documents. A great way to get started is to scan school shot records, receipts from care visits, and EOBs (your health insurance Explanation of Benefits) for upload as an online PDF. As you collect more medical info, continue adding it into your online file. Parents can access it anytime, making it handy for those times when you need it to answer health insurance screening questions or for when a parent needs to take their child in for last-minute care.

Expert tip: In addition to the convenience of having all that medical information at your fingertips, it can be a secure option for busy families who may not always have access to their "official" medical records. Be sure to only grant access to immediate family members, and restrict access to viewing only. This will prevent accidental deletions or revisions to records that could cause costly errors down the road.

Competent Child Care

A couple is away on vacation for the weekend when their regular babysitter gets sick. They call in a replacement, who knows nothing about their children. While their new caregiver is a good choice, they worry that she may not have all the information she needs in an emergency. What's the best way to get all this info to her immediately?

Even the most capable babysitters may have the need for a go-to manual with all the important details for the children they are caring for. Whether they need to quickly access an allergy warning, instructions for administering prescription medication, emergency phone numbers, or security codes, caregivers should have a way to get potentially life-saving facts from their phone or online. By storing information for each child and the household in online documents, like spreadsheets, parents can be sure that the most updated information is available to their babysitter, grandma, or an older sibling — anytime a situation arises.

Expert tip: Caregivers appreciate more than just the essentials on your children. In addition to having all that they need to make basic and emergency decisions, cloud computing can be used to acquaint them with the more personal aspects of caring for your kids. Examples may include noting that Junior has a favorite blanket that can keep him secure at night, the family dog enjoys his water warm from the tap, and the middle light switch on the kitchen wall turns on the light to the basement, not the porch. Any special tidbit of info that can make the task of keeping your home and family safe is a great one to include in your online caregiving portfolio!

By being thorough with your information, updating it often, and choosing to carefully share it with only those you trust, cloud computing can be the next best thing in having your own personal assistant.

What type of information does your family seem to misplace?

Thanks to Windows 7 and Windows Live for sponsoring this post about how technology makes parenting so much easier. Visit Windows to learn more about the power of the Cloud and what it can do for you.

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Guest's picture

okay, I'm confused. Is cloud computing some kind of program, or just a method of putting stuff online? This post seems unfinished...

Will Chen's picture

Hi Jenny good question! We're doing a whole series of cloud-computing articles that will provide more details. Here's a preview from an upcoming article that gives a definition of Cloud Computing:

"You may ask, what is cloud computing, anyway? It’s simply a fancy term for Internet-based computing, where applications, files, and resources are stored in distant servers away from your computer. You can access these resources on demand, from any computer. Any time you’re using Flickr, Yahoo Mail, Google Docs, Office Live, or MobileMe, you are ‘on the cloud.’"

Guest's picture

I was hoping for more on options for cloud computing, how secure is it, how accessible and how controllable is granting access to different groups? This article leaves out a lot of information

Will Chen's picture

Hi Damich that's a great idea! Indeed this article was not meant to cover everything, since we're doing a whole series of articles about Cloud Computing and we will be covering some of the topics you mentioned in the future. Thanks for the suggestions!

Guest's picture

Does the cloud mean internet powered services?

Linsey Knerl's picture

Thanks, everyone for the comments! In this article, the "cloud" refers to internet storage, as compared to cluttering up your own PC or Mac with info. Not only can using online cloud storage services like Windows Live or Google Docs save you storage space, but it makes it easy for you to access your important family info from anywhere you have an internet connection. I hope this helps to clear up some of your questions!