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In Case of Emergency: 11 Ways to Make the ER Less Stressful

The E.R. can be a bewildering place with loud noises, bright lights, restless kids, and freaked-out parents. Our guide makes it less stressful.
ambulance What You Need to Know

The first time I ever went to the emergency room with one of my kids, I stopped and picked up food for us on the way. It was almost dinnertime, and who knew how long we'd be waiting? Bad move. It turns out that some E.R. physicians won't give a child any kind of sedation unless her stomach has been empty for at least four hours. For anesthesia, they may prefer to wait as long as eight. Although my 4-year-old daughter Stella's situation wasn't urgent -- she had pushed a plastic bead up her nose -- the doctor wanted to sedate her before removing it. Because we had just eaten, that was out of the question unless we wanted to hang around for hours. Luckily, the doctor agreed to try the procedure without sedation, and he was able to extract the bead. But what could have been a simple removal was difficult and more painful for Stella than it had to be.

Going to the E.R. can be an overwhelming experience for the whole family -- especially if you don't know what to expect when you get there. So we asked doctors and nurses how to make sure your child gets the fastest and best possible care. Read their insiders' advice before an emergency strikes.