CHOC Children's

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 department is needed. In general, take your child to an emergency room after an injury anytime you think the problem may need urgent attention, including if your child has:

  • trouble breathing, shortness of breath, or bloody sputum.
  • blue or purple color to lips, skin, or nail beds.
  • chest or stomach pain or pressure.
  • 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 with direct pressure.
  • severe burns or burns of the face.
  • 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, or wheezing.

Once you provide first-aid treatment for your child, it is a good idea to call your child's physician to see if any follow-up care is needed.


If you are ever unsure about whether your child's injury needs emergency care, treat it as an emergency. Call 911 or your local emergency medical services right away for any serious injury.

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

Click here to view the
Online Resources of Common Childhood Injuries & Poisonings


It is important to remember the health information found on this website is for reference only not intended to replace the advice and guidance of your healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.

© Children's Hospital of Orange County