At Atlantic Health System Children's Health, we understand that it’s not always easy to know when your child needs emergency care. A pediatric emergency can be defined as a severe injury or illness that is threatening to your child’s health or might cause permanent harm. Emergencies can be both physical and psychological in nature with symptoms that may include:
- Acting strangely or becoming more withdrawn and less alert
- Unconsciousness or lack of response
- Rhythmic jerking or seizures
- Difficulty breathing
- Skin or lips that look blue, purple or gray
- Neck stiffness or rash with fever
- Increasing or severe, persistent pain
- Physical trauma involving the head, chest or abdomen
- Bleeding from large or deep cuts that does not stop after applying pressure for five minutes
- Burns that are large or involve the hands, groin or face
- Head injuries accompanied by a loss of consciousness, confusion, headache or vomiting
Ask your child’s pediatrician in advance what you should do in case of an emergency. You may also want to consider taking a basic life support course at your local hospital or school to help keep you prepared.
In case of an emergency, stay calm:
- Call 911 if you need immediate help. If you do not have 911 services in your area, call your local emergency ambulance service or county emergency medical service.
- If your child is not breathing, have someone who is properly trained start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
- Call the poison center at once if your child has swallowed a suspected poison or another person’s medication, even if your child has no signs or symptoms.
- Apply continuous pressure to the site of bleeding with a clean cloth.
- Place your child on the floor with his or her head turned to the side if he or she is having a seizure. Do not put anything in his or her mouth.
- Do not move your injured child unless there is immediate danger.
- Stay with your child until help arrives.
- Bring any medication your child is taking with you to the hospital.
- Bring any suspected poisons or other medications your child might have taken.
- After you arrive at the emergency department, make sure you tell the staff the name of your child’s pediatrician. He or she can work closely with the emergency physicians and nurses and provide them with more information about your child.