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When to Dial 911

Deciding whether or not your child’s sickness or injury warrants a 911 call can be tricky. Some would argue that calling 911 should only happen when it is absolutely certain that there is an emergency. Others don’t see any reason to take any chances and feel it’s okay to call 911 anytime, especially if it involves a child or baby.

For the most part, parents have to be able to trust their intuition about when to call 911 or when to handle the situation themselves. There are some scenarios that require a call no matter what.

1. When your child is having trouble breathing.

If your child is showing any signs of difficulty getting enough air, including wheezing, labored breathing, inability to talk, or if their lips and cheeks begin to turn blue, it’s a good time to call 911. Choking, asthma, or even pneumonia can cause breathing trouble. This is a situation that you want to watch closely and call for help right away. Once paramedics are on the scene, they can give your child oxygen and assess the situation.

2. When your child is having a seizure.

Seizures can be extremely scary and it’s easy as a parent to panic. It’s important to remain calm and pay attention to details. If a seizure lasts for less than 3 minutes, you’re okay to take them to a doctor. If it’s more than 3 minutes, or if the rate of breathing increases to over 60 breaths per minute or if the child’s mouth begins to turn blue, call 911 right away. While you’re waiting, be sure to turn your child on their side to prevent choking on saliva and try to keep their airway clear.

3. When your child has experienced a head injury.

Whether it’s a result of a fall or if your child was hit with something, head injuries can turn serious quickly. As a parent, you’ll want to watch for irregular breathing, convulsions, seizures or unconsciousness. If any of these are happening, call 911. It’s best not to move your child to prevent further injury. Cover bleeding wounds with a clean cloth and apply pressure.

4. When your child has a severe broken bone.

Broken bones are typically not life threatening, but they still need to be treated carefully by an expert. In most cases, a parent can drive their child to the emergency room to be evaluated. You should call 911 if the broken bone is so severe that you can’t control the pain. This might include a bone that is sticking out of the skin. Broken bone accidents that involve trauma to the head or neck or cause unconsciousness warrant a 911 call.

Other situations that may require a 911 call could include severe vomiting and diarrhea or deep cuts. Some parents may feel that, in these situations, they can safely transport their child to the emergency room rather than call the paramedics. Getting an injured child loaded into a car and safely to the hospital can be more difficult than we think. If you feel it’s an emergency, call 911. If not, be sure to bring your child in to see us at AllKids Urgent Care as soon as possible.


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