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Child Health Emergencies

Having a very sick or severely injured child is a parent’s worst nightmare. If it happened to your child, would you know the best way to go about getting treatment? Knowing when to call an ambulance is important. 

Symptoms to heed

Many emergencies involve sudden injuries caused by bicycle or car crashes, falls, burns, near drownings, electric shocks, or poisoning.

If your child has any of the following signs or symptoms, remain calm and call 911:

  • Unconsciousness, fainting, or no response when spoken to

  • Choking

  • Swallowing a poisonous substance

  • Rhythmic jerking and loss of consciousness

  • Trouble with breathing or shortness of breath

  • Skin or lips that look blue, purple, or gray

  • Increasing or severe persistent pain

  • Bleeding that will not stop or a cut that’s large, deep, or involves the head, chest, or abdomen

  • Neck stiffness or a rash with fever

  • Severe bleeding or head trauma

  • A burn that’s large or involves the hands, feet, groin, chest, or face

  • A change in mental status, such as suddenly becoming unusually sleepy, disoriented, or confused

  • A rapid heartbeat that doesn’t slow down

Steps to take

If you believe your child needs emergency medical care, do the following:

  • Call the Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222 if your child has swallowed a medication or poison.

  • Call 911 or your local emergency number.

For non-life threatening conditions, you have time to first call your child’s pediatrician. They will be able to advise you what type of care is most appropriate for your situation. If you are in doubt if the condition is life threatening, call 911.