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When to Take Your Child to the ER

When To Take Your Child to the Emergency Department

Sometimes it can be difficult to know when a trip to the emergency department is necessary.  If your child exhibits any of the following warning signs we suggest you take immediate action.

Warning Signs that Demand Action

  • Fainting, loss of consciousness, seizure or convulsion
  • Fever (temperature > 100.4) in a newborn
  • Rapid or difficulty breathing, visibly using chest and stomach muscles to breathe
  • Sudden dizziness, weakness or change in vision
  • Change in behavior, such as confusion or difficulty waking
  • Severe or persistent vomiting or vomiting blood
  • Severe or persistent diarrhea or blood in stools
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea with dry lips or mouth and/or decreased urination
  • Profuse bleeding or bleeding that won't stop with direct pressure after 15 minutes
  • A gaping wound with edges that don't come together
  • Problems with movement or sensation after an injury
  • A stiff neck associated with fever or headache
  • Accidents involving pedestrians or bicycles and cars
  • A red/purple rash that doesn't disappear when brief fingertip pressure is applied to the skin
  • A bulging or sunken fontanel (soft spot) in infants
  • Sudden severe pain anywhere in the body
  • Falls from any significant height
  • Mental health concerns 

What should you do?

  • If possible, talk to your physician and follow his/her advice.
  • If the situation is severe, or your child isn't responsive or can't be roused, call 911.
  • If the child's condition seems life-threatening or could become so before you can reach the hospital, call 911.
  • Otherwise, head for the Children's Emergency Department at the location closest to you.

Be ready before an emergency happens

  • Talk to your physician about accident prevention and emergency care.
  • Take courses in CPR and first aid.
  • Tape a list of the Warning Signs above to your refrigerator, along with a map and directions to our children's emergency department.
  • Print and fill out a Children's Emergency Consent Form to leave with your babysitter or other caregiver.
  • Visit our Safety Store and Resource Center where we offer classes and products to help prevent emergencies.