The ABCs of Emergency Care

Learn these techniques now, before you need to know.

Children can be magnets for dangerous situations. Do you know what to do if your child needs emergency medical attention? Learn these emergency response techniques that could save your child's life.

1. If your child is choking and can cough or make a sound: Call 911 and do nothing until help arrives. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC), if your child can cough or make a sound, you should call 911 and wait until help arrives.

2. If your child is choking and cannot make a sound: Perform CPR if you're able. If a child is unable to cough or make a sound while choking, CPR should be administered if possible, according to the NCIPC.

3. If your child eats or drinks something poisonous and experiences a seizure, loss of consciousness, or trouble breathing: Call 911. According to the NCIPC, if your child shows symptoms from ingesting poison, call for an ambulance right away. During that call, find out the recommended treatment for her particular symptoms.

4. If your child eats or drinks something poisonous and shows no symptoms: Call the Poison Control Center. If your child shows no symptoms from ingesting poison, call the Poison Control Center before dialing 911, notes the NCIPC. Have the medication or substance that she swallowed in hand when you call so you can give complete information to the Poison Control Center. Don't make her vomit unless advised to do so.

5. If your child is bleeding severely: Apply direct pressure to the wound. According to the NCIPC, if bleeding won't stop after raising the bleeding body part above chest level, apply direct pressure with your hand, a gauze pad, or a clean cloth. Don't remove any object that's in her wound and don't probe or put any object into her wound. If the bleeding continues, call 911.

6. If your child is having difficulty breathing, but can cough or talk: Call 911. If your child appears to be having trouble breathing, call for emergency help right away, notes the NCIPC. Let your child to get into the position that's most comfortable for him. If he can talk or cough, don't take any steps to relieve choking.

7. If your child isn't breathing at all: Perform CPR and chest compressions, then call 911. The NCIPC notes that if you're unable to see, hear, or feel your child breathing, perform CPR and chest compressions immediately -- don't call for emergency help first. If your child is still unable to breathe after 60 seconds, put CPR on hold momentarily to call for an ambulance.

8. If your child suffers a severe burn: Place a cool, damp cloth over the burn. If your child's skin becomes red, pale, or charred, place a clean, cool, damp cloth gently over the burn. Cover him with a clean sheet and blanket for warmth before taking him to the emergency room, notes the NCIPC. Don't apply any ice or ointment to the burn.

9. If your child suffers a convulsive seizure: Clear the area and let the seizure run its course. Lay him on his side, remove any nearby objects that could harm him, and don't attempt to restrain him, recommends the NCIPC. However, if the seizure continues for more than 10 minutes, call 911.

10. If your child appears to be unconscious: Call 911 and raise her legs. If you're unable to awaken your child, call for emergency help right away. Keep her lying down and raise her legs 6 to 12 inches. Don't move her (unless she's in a dangerous place) or give her any food or drink, says the NCIPC.

11. If you suspect your child has a broken skull, neck, back, or pelvic bone: Keep him still and call 911. If your child might have broken a major bone, especially one that surrounds parts of the nervous system (skull, backbone, neck), moving the child can be dangerous and risk death or paralysis. According to the NCIPC, if you suspect that one of these bones may be broken, don't move your child -- wait for emergency help.

12. If you suspect your child has a broken arm or leg: Immobilize the limb and take her to the emergency room. If an outer limb -- such as arm, leg, or hand -- appears to have a broken bone, the limb should be immobilized, notes the NCICP. You should then take the child to the emergency room for x-rays.

Source: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition

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