Minor Problem Vs. A True Emergency

Many minor injuries can be handled at home. However, there are times when a trip to the hospital emergency room is needed. In general, take your child to an emergency room after an injury anytime you think the problem may need immediate attention, including if your child has:

  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
  • Bloody sputum (coughing up blood) 
  • Blue or purple color to lips, skin, or nail beds
  • Chest or stomach pain or pressure
  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea 
  • Sudden dizziness, weakness, or change in vision
  • Change in mental status (such as loss of consciousness, confusion, or trouble waking)
  • Seizures
  • Animal, snake, or human bites
  • Severe pain or loss of motion or sensation anywhere in the body
  • Severe bleeding or bleeding that does not stop after 5-10 minutes of direct pressure
  • Severe burns or burns of the face, hands, feet or genitals
  • Broken bones
  • Puncture wounds
  • Head, spinal cord, or eye injuries
  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as hives, swelling of the face, lips, eyes, or tongue, fainting, or with trouble breathing, swallowing, vomiting or wheezing
  • High fever (105 or higher)
    • Most febrile (fever-related) illnesses can and should be managed by your child’s doctor, and do not need to be emergently evaluated in your hospital emergency department

This is a partial list. There are other problems that may require emergency care. Contact your child's doctor for more information.

First-Aid Kit

Everyone should have a well-stocked first-aid kit at home, in the car, and in the workplace. You may also want to stock a portable kit (a box or small bag) that can be taken to the site of an emergency.

It is important to check your kit regularly to restock items that have been used, and to replace items that are out-of-date.

The contents of the kit vary depending upon the number of people it is designed to protect, as well as its intent for use. Recommended contents of a first-aid kit include the following:


  • Bulb syringe
  • Scissors
  • Thermometer (oral)
  • Tweezers


  • Adhesive tape
  • Butterfly bandages
  • Elastic bandages
  • Hypoallergenic tape
  • Sling (triangular-shaped cloth)
  • Sterile cotton balls
  • Sterile eye patches
  • Sterile gauze pads (4" x 4")
  • Stretchable gauze roll
  • Waterproof tape


  • Acetaminophen
  • Antacid
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Antidiarrheal medication (for adults)
  • Antihistamine
  • Aspirin (for adults)
  • Antiseptic ointment
  • Calamine lotion
  • Decongestant (for teens/adults)
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Ibuprofen
  • Sugar or glucose solution

Miscellaneous Items

  • Alcohol (rubbing 70 percent)
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Blanket
  • Candles
  • Chemical ice packs or ice bag
  • Chemical hot packs or hot water bottle
  • Cotton swabs
  • Disposable gloves (non-Latex if you or a loved one has a Latex allergy)
  • Face mask for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • First-aid book
  • Flashlight
  • Insect repellent
  • Insect sting swabs
  • Matches
  • Measuring/Dosing device (i.e., syringe or dosing cup)
  • Paper and pencil
  • Paper cups
  • Soap
  • Safety pins
  • Sunscreen
  • Tissues
  • Tongue blades

You can also use the following everyday items in the event of an emergency:

  • Disposable or cloth diapers for compresses, bandages, or padding for splints
  • Dish towels for bandages or slings
  • Umbrella, rolled magazine, or layered newspaper for use as a splint

In addition, it is helpful to carry the following items in your car:

  • A large blanket
  • Gallon-size bottle of water
  • Flashlight and extra batteries

If your child or other family member has special medical needs, be sure to carry extra medical supplies when you go on an outing or trip. Some of these items might include the following:

  • An allergy kit containing medications to be used by people allergic to insect stings or certain foods
  • Prescription medications (make sure they're stored properly and aren't expired), syringes, and special equipment or supplies
  • List of your or your child’s medical and surgical diagnoses and procedures, medications (including concentration, dose, and frequency) and physician phone numbers/contact information

Be sure any member of your family who has special needs wears a Medic Alert bracelet or necklace at all times. Applications are available in most pharmacies.