Medical Emergencies

When your Child Needs Emergency Medical Services


It is rare for children to become seriously ill with no warning. Depending on your child’s symptoms, you usually should contact your child’s pediatrician for advice. Early recognition and treatment of symptoms can prevent an illness or injury from getting worse or turning into an emergency.

What is an emergency?

An emergency is when you believe a severe injury or illness is threatening your child’s health or may cause permanent harm. In these cases, a child needs emergency medical treatment right away.


Discuss with your child’s pediatrician in advance what you should do and where you should go in case of an emergency.


Emergencies can result from medical (or psychiatric) illnesses or injuries. Your child may show any of the following signs:

  • Acting strangely or becoming more withdrawn and less alert
  • Unconsciousness or no response when you talk to your child
  • Rhythmic jerking and loss of consciousness (a seizure)
  • Increasing effort or trouble with breathing
  • Skin or lips that look blue, purple, or gray
  • Neck stiffness or a rash with fever
  • Increasing or severe persistent pain
  • A cut that is large, deep, or involves the head, chest, or abdomen
  • Bleeding that does not stop after applying pressure for 5 minutes
  • A burn that is large or involves the hands, feet, groin, chest or face
  • Any loss of consciousness, confusion, headache, or vomiting after a head injury


Many emergencies involve sudden injuries. These injuries often are caused by the following:


  • Bicycle or car crashes
  • Falls
  • Burns or smoke inhalation
  • Choking
  • Near drowning
  • Firearms or other weapons
  • Electric shocks
  • Poisoning*


*Call your Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 at once if your child has swallowed a suspected poison or another person’s medication, even if your child has no signs or symptoms.


Call your pediatrician if you think your child is ill. Call 911 (or your local emergency number) for help if you are concerned that your child’s life may be in danger or that your child is seriously ill or injured.


In addition, every parent should be prepared. Part of that preparation includes learning CPR and basic first aid. For classes near you, contact your pediatrician, the American Red Cross, or the American Heart Association.

In case of an emergency
Important Emergency Phone Numbers