• Health
  • Parenting
  • Safety

How can I tell when my child needs emergency treatment?

  • Posted
x-ray of foot

If your child breaks a bone, you’ll likely make a mad dash to the emergency room, no questions asked. But it’s a bit murkier when you’re dealing with a stubborn fever or lingering headache.

At what point is a trip to the ER in order? Based on symptoms, you should contact your pediatrician for advice because timely treatment can prevent an illness from worsening or turning into an emergency, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Here are situations that require urgent medical attention:

INJURIES

  • Motor vehicle or bicycle accidents
  • Falls from heights
  • Poisoning (Call helpline at 800-222-1222)
  • Burns or smoke inhalation
  • Choking
  • Non-fatal drowning 
  • Firearms or other weapons
  • Electric shocks

ALARMING SYMPTOMS

  • Abnormal behavior or withdrawn and less alert
  • Trouble breathing
  • Blue or purple skin or lips; gray on darker skin
  • A large or deep cut or burn
  • Persistent bleeding
  • Rhythmical jerking and loss of consciousness, signaling a seizure
  • Unconsciousness
  • Confusion, change in consciousness, headache or vomiting after a head injury
  • Loose or knocked-out teeth, or severe mouth or facial injuries
  • Increasing or severe persistent pain
  • Decreasing responsiveness

WHAT TO DO IN AN EMERGENCY

• Stay calm.
• If CPR is needed, administer it while someone else calls 911. If alone, administer CPR for two minutes before calling 911.
• If bleeding, apply continuous pressure to the wound with a clean cloth.
• If a seizure, place your child on a carpet and turn head to the side until help arrives.

FOR SITTERS

Anyone who cares for your child should know CPR and have the following information handy to call 911:

• Your home address
• Your phone number
• A list of your child’s medications
• A list of your child’s allergies

(Visit the website of American Red Cross to find CPR classes in your area.)

SOURCES:

American Academy of Pediatrics
HealthyChildren.org

 

Back to listing

For a listing of all resources, click here.
Additional Resources
You May Also Enjoy
  • Run, jump and climb — safely

    Nothing's better than watching your child run, jump and climb through the park. Follow these safety tips to keep them safe on the playground.

  • Check those smoke alarms — and 10 other life-saving tips

    Smoke alarms reduce the chances of dying in a fire by nearly 50 percent — but they have to work properly to be effective. Here are more fire-related tips for your home.

  • Keys to home-cooked meals: planning and shopping ahead

    Compile a list of ideas for meals and set aside the best day each week to shop and prep meals to freeze. Here are more tips and insight from our experts to boost your culinary health.