When to Call 911 for Children Ages 1-18

When your child is sick or hurt, you want to know what to do right away. You also want to know whether you should call your kid’s doctor (pediatrician), take them to an emergency room, or call 911. There are many problems you can take care of yourself at home. But there are other problems where you must get help right away, take your child to an emergency room, or to see the doctor. Some insurance companies offer a nurse health line that you can call and talk to someone to find out what you should do. The following is a list of definite life-threatening emergencies and you need to get help right away—call 911, the fire department, the police, hospital, or poison control.

paramedicsDefinite Life-threatening Emergencies

  • Your child has stopped breathing and has no heartbeat
  • Your child has stopped breathing but still has a heartbeat
  • A broken neck—do not move the child at all all until help arrives
  • A fracture (broken bone) of shoulder, arm, or leg
  • Large open bleeding wound of the stomach (abdomen) or chest
  • Open fracture—bone is sticking up through the skin
  • Severe bleeding—pumping, spurting bleeding from a wound with each heartbeat is from an artery. Lots of constant non-pumping or spurting bleeding is from a large vein.
  • Allergic reaction to medicine or insect bite
  • Choking—turning blue, unable to speak or breathe
  • Coma—a child who is unconscious or cannot seem to wake up from sleep or after an injury
  • Convulsions, fits, or seizures
  • Drowning
  • Electric shock or lightning injury
  • Mental health emergencies—suicide attempt, alcohol or drug overdose
  • Poisoning
  • Slow weak breathing

Keep the following emergency numbers near the phone

911 — teach your children how to call 911, when they should use it and what they should tell the operator when they get someone on the phone. Make sure your children know their phone number, their full name, and their street address.

  • 911
  • Fire
  • Police
  • Ambulance
  • Poison Control

First Aid

It is important for adults who are responsible for or have children to learn first aid, and what to do for emergency and life-threatening events until help arrives.