As a parent, it’s always best to err on the side of caution when your child is sick or injured. Most of the time it is easy to determine whether you may need to take a trip to the emergency department:
- Sprained or broken bones
- Severe burns
- Poisonings or venomous bites/stings
- Worsening of chronic illness
- Severe stomach pain
- Head injury
- Severe vomiting or coughing up blood
- High fever, especially in young children
But for those gray-area situations, keep your ABCD’s in mind:
Airway: If your child’s airway is blocked because he or she is choking, call 9-1-1 right away.
Breathing: If your child’s breathing is abnormal, you should seek emergency medical help. This can include shortness of breath, wheezing and asthma attacks. If your child stops breathing, call 9-1-1.
Circulation: This category includes large cuts or wounds that won’t stop bleeding, along with signs of dehydration. Children may be dehydrated if their urine output has decreased (less than two soaked diapers a day), they are lethargic, have few or no tears while crying, dry mouth, sunken soft spots on their head, sunken eyes, or they have cool, discolored hands and feet.
Disability: If your child is unconscious or has a seizure, call 9-1-1.
If you still find yourself questioning whether or not to make the trip to the ED, call your pediatrician’s office and ask to talk to a nurse or doctor. If it is after normal office hours, most offices have a call system in place to deal with urgent situations.
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