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Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing a medical emergency please call 9-1-1 for an ambulance or go to the nearest hospital emergency department.

Download a printable chart

Sometimes it can be difficult to know when you should call your child's doctor, or go to urgent care or the emergency department. The following chart can help you decide if your child needs primary, urgent or emergency care. You can also print a chart to keep handy in a visible location or in your FREE Health Care Notebook.

green = primary care, yellow = urgent care, red = emergency

primary careurgent care



Allergic reactions

primary careurgent care

Asthma attack (mild wheezing)


Asthma attack (wheezing/trouble breathing)

primary careurgent care



Broken bones (visible, obvious deformity)


Broken bones

primary careurgent care

Burn (minor)


Burn (serious, including eyes, electrical or acid burns, infection or blister)


Cast-related problems (after hours)

primary careurgent care


urgent care

Cut (minor)


Cut (bleeding that won't stop)



primary careurgent care


primary careurgent care

Earache/ear infection


Fainting due to exercise or activity

primary careurgent care


primary careurgent care

Fever (child is older than 2 months and has no other medical problems)


Fever (child is younger than 2 months)

primary careurgent care


primary careurgent care

Head injury (no loss of consciousness or other concerns)


Head injury (loss of consciousness, confusion, vomiting)

primary careurgent care


primary careurgent care

Migraine headache

primary careurgent care

Nosebleed (not resulting from an injury to the face/nose)

primary careurgent care

Pink eye



primary careurgent care


primary careurgent care

Respiratory conditions/wheezing/pneumonia/croup (without severe breathing problems)


Respiratory conditions/wheezing/pneumonia/croup (with severe breathing problems)





primary careurgent care

Sinus infection

primary careurgent care

Sore throat

primary careurgent care


primary careurgent care


primary careurgent care

Swallowed object (no problems swallowing)


Swallowed object (problems swallowing)


Swallowed object (battery, magnet)

primary careurgent care

Urinary tract infection

primary careurgent care

Vomiting (not as a result of injury)

What to do in an emergency:

  • Remain calm and call 9-1-1
  • Begin CPR, if the child is not breathing
  • In the case of a seizure, place the child on the floor so that his/her body and head are turned to the side
  • If your child is bleeding, apply a clean cloth and constant pressure to the wound
  • Never move a child who is injured unless there is an immediate danger, like smoke inhalation or a fire
  • If you suspect a poisoning, gather up any poisons, medications, etc., that you suspect your child has swallowed and take them with you to the emergency department

Medical emergencies: are you prepared?

Childhood should be simple, but sometimes things get complicated. When, and even before that happens, we're here to help.

If you have children, you will likely experience a medical emergency at some point in time. So it's a good idea to have an action plan ready. Following are tips and tools to help you take the appropriate action.

When to call Poison Control

If you think your child has swallowed anything poisonous, or touched something poisonous, you should immediately call poison control. Don't wait for the victim to look or feel sick. Do not try to treat the person yourself, this could result in even more serious damage.

Accidental poisoning includes:

  • Bath salts
  • Button batteries
  • Carbon monoxide
  • e-Cigarette devices
  • Energy drinks
  • Household cleaners (including laundry and dish packets)
  • Liquor (this includes beer and wine)
  • Medicine (including vitamins and herbal supplements)
  • Plants
  • Snakes, spiders, or other venomous creatures

Print Cook Children's poison prevention sheet here

Helpful links:

When to call 9-1-1

If your child is unconscious, a bone is sticking out or the situation seems critical, dial 9-1-1 immediately for an ambulance. When your child's condition is life threatening or might cause permanent harm, it is safer for your child to be transported via ambulance.

If you are calling 9-1-1 from a cell phone be prepared to tell them your location and address.

Injuries or accidents that may result in a trip to the emergency room:

  • Choking
  • Electrical shocks
  • Falls
  • Guns, knives, and other weapons
  • Near drownings

Should I go to an emergency room?


If your child is ill or injured, the following signs may suggest the need for emergency care:

  • Bleeding that won't stop after applying pressure for five minutes
  • Broken bones
  • Burn that is large, especially if it includes the chest, face, feet, groin or hands
  • Cut or gash that is large or deep
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness or if your child seems confused or disoriented
  • Head injuries that cause loss of consciousness, dizziness, or extreme sleepiness
  • High fever in infants under two months
  • Injuries caused by a car or motorcycle crash, or if your child has been hit by a moving vehicle
  • Injury from a high fall
  • Loss of consciousness, confusion, headache or vomiting as the result of a head injury
  • Pain that is persistent and/or increases in intensity
  • Seizures
  • Severe headaches
  • Stiff neck and/or a rash with high fever
  • Trouble breathing
  • Unexplained seizure

Urgent Care

Sometimes things happen when you just can't get to your pediatrician's office. Cook Children's urgent care centers are available to treat injuries and illnesses that don't need to be seen by an emergency department, but do need to be seen by a pediatrician. Here you can get things like X-rays, stitches, and care for minor injuries that aren't life threatening yet require medical attention the same day.

  • Asthma
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Mild allergic reactions
  • Minor burns
  • Minor cuts or laceration
  • Rashes
  • Sprains and strains
  • Vomiting

Important numbers

Always keep important numbers handy so you can access them easily in an emergency. Keep them by every phone in your house and either on your refrigerator or message center. Show your children, baby-sitters, caregivers and other family members where they are so they can access them too.

Your contact sheet should include:

Emergency: 9-1-1

Poison Control: 1-800-222-1222

Urgent care:

  • Cook Children's Fort Worth Urgent Care Center 682-885-8012
  • Cook Children's Mansfield Urgent Care Center 817-347-8400
  • Cook Children's Northeast Hospital Urgent Care Center 817-605-2500
  • Cook Children's Southlake Urgent Care Center 682-885-6000

Emergency information:

  • Poison Control Center: 1-800-222-1222
  • Hospital name and phone: ____________
  • Pediatrician name and phone: ____________
  • Dentist name and phone: ____________
  • Pharmacy name and phone: ____________
  • Health insurance plan name, policy number, phone: ____________

Family information:

  • Parents' names: ____________
  • Kids' names: ____________
  • Address: street, city, county, state, ZIP code: ____________
  • Mom's cell number: ____________
  • Mom's work number: ____________
  • Dad's cell number: ____________
  • Dad's work number: ____________
  • Emergency contact 1: name, relationship, phone
  • Emergency contact 2: name, relationship, phone
  • Kids' cell phone numbers: ____________

Download and print an emergency contact sheet

Know what to do in an emergency

  • Remain calm and call 9-1-1, if necessary
  • Begin CPR, if the child is not breathing
  • In the case of a seizure, place the child on the floor so that his/her body and head are turned to the side
  • If your child is bleeding, apply a clean cloth and constant pressure to the wound
  • Never move a child who is injured unless there is an immediate danger, like smoke inhalation or a fire
  • If you suspect a poisoning, gather up any poisons, medications, etc., that you suspect your child has swallowed and take them with you to the emergency department. Tell the hospital if you suspect your child may have swallowed an item, like a small toy, marble, magnet, etc.

Have a first-aid kit

Having a first-aid kit can help you in both minor and major emergencies. You can purchase a first-aid kit at most drugstores. You can also make your own.

Once you have your first-aid kit, be sure to do the following:

  • Read the first-aid kit manual so you'll know how to use the items in the kit
  • Review the manual with your older children so they know how to use the kit as well
  • Store the kit out of reach from small children
  • Make sure baby-sitters and other caregivers know where the kit is
  • Check the kit on a regular basis and replace any missing or out-of-date (expired) items
  • Check the flashlight and replace batteries if needed

You may also want a travel first-aid kit for your car and for trips. If you're flying, be sure to pack your kit in checked baggage. First-aid kits aren't allowed in carry-ons.

Learn CPR

Taking a basic CPR course could be the best time you'll ever spend. If your child stops breathing, is choking, or is having a seizure, this knowledge could quite possibly be life-saving. You can find a course near you through the American Heart Association.

Choosing a pediatric emergency department

Adult hospitals are great, for adults. But kids have very special needs. Pediatric emergency departments are staffed by emergency medical specialists who have advanced training in pediatric emergencies.

Cook Children's Emergency Department isn't just kid friendly, it's kid only. We're here 24/7 for kids from birth to 21 years of age.

Our pediatric specialists are not only among the best in emergency medicine, they are among the most skilled when it comes to taking care of kids. Cook Children's emergency doctors have advanced training in pediatric emergency medicine so they understand that kids are not small adults. Children are constantly growing and changing and they have very different needs. Here at Cook Children's, emergency-medicine doctors and nurses are here to do the most important thing in an emergency, take care of your child every step of the way.

In a pediatric emergency department, imaging technologies and surgical centers are equipped with child-sized tools. And when you consider how many sizes kids come in, from birth to 21, that's a lot of sizes.

The same thing is true for medications, including sedatives. Having a pediatric emergency medical team is an added layer of safety for your child. And comfort for you.

Our support staff understands kids and families. Child Life specialists are available to help ease a child's fears. Cook Children's Social Services team can help you navigate everything from your child's ongoing health care needs to physical, emotional and financial stress.