Emergency Care Checklist

Summer is a season for fun, adventure and accidents. Be prepared to handle any emergency that comes your family’s way!

By Melissa Tucker


Summer break may mean no homework and more relaxed schedules, but it’s not a time to relax the rules when it comes to safety, says Hope Mullins, assistant director of the Injury Prevention Center at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. 

Some of the most common accidents seen at Children’s during the summer are falls, motor vehicle crashes, bike-related injuries and firearm-related injuries. 

Mullins and other doctors at Children’s frequently advise parents to keep children safe with supervision, using safety devices and sticking to established safety protocol. 

“Supervision is key to keeping children safe,” she said. “Supervision when swimming, riding bikes, around campfires, and around firearms. Another key thing parents can do to keep children safe is to use the appropriate safe product for the activity they are engaged in.”

Parents should have life jackets for swimming and water sports, helmets for bikes, skateboards, scooters and ATVs. Firearms should be secured using lock boxes, trigger locks or gun safes. Use seatbelts. Bring sunscreen for outdoor activities. Have a safe place for infants under 1 year old to sleep, such as a Pack ’n Play, she said. 

“Finally, don’t relax the rules just because it’s summer,” she said. “Safe transportation while traveling is still paramount. Don’t overcrowd vehicles. Everyone needs a seatbelt or car seat of their own. If you have rules about when or where or who your teenager may drive or ride with, don’t relax those rules by allowing riskier behaviors.”

But should the worst happen, parents should be prepared and know how to act. Here are some tips on when to seek medical treatment or what to do before you can get there.


Brush Up on CPR

CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, helps continue the circulation of oxygenated blood to the brain when someone isn’t breathing normally. Without this oxygenated blood, brain damage or death can happen in under 8 minutes, according to kidshealth.org. 

CPR may be necessary in an accident, near-drowning, suffocation, poisoning, smoke inhalation, electrocution, or for infants suspected of having SIDS. 

Many hospitals offer CPR classes for soon-to-be parents who will deliver. Teens can learn the basics in babysitting classes. For everyone else who doesn’t need a CPR certification for their job, online and in-person courses are offered by the American Red Cross and the local chapter of the American Heart Association. Administering CPR is slightly different for infants, young children and adults and because this skill requires practice, parents should refresh their CPR knowledge every two years. Mullins suggests families take classes from the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association or American First Response. Look for classes at redcross.org or cpr.heart.org. 

Be a Safe Sitter
Boys and girls ages 12-14 are invited to register for Safe Sitter, a two-day babysitting course offered by Baptist Health Medical Center. It is a medically accurate, hands-on class that teaches how to handle emergencies when caring for children. Participants will learn what to do when a child is choking, how to call for emergency help, babysitting business skills, basic childcare skills like diapering and feeding, how to entertain children and keep them safe, and infant/child CPR. Classes are offered through July. Register at baptist-health.com.


Emergency Dental Care 

A chipped tooth or a toothache is not a dental emergency, but bleeding and swelling that could indicate an infection may require a trip to an emergency dentist. Other symptoms that may need immediate dental attention are:

  • Abscess (swollen tissue with pus)

  • A knocked-out tooth or tooth fracture

  • Swollen gums

  • Bleeding

  • Severe pain, especially in the wisdom tooth area

    What you should do:

  • Call your regular pediatric dentist to find out about emergency care after hours or discuss your options at your next visit. 

  • Give ibuprofen for pain. Not aspirin, as it can cause more bleeding.

  • Rinse the mouth with warm water and apply ice or a cold compress.

  • If you can find the broken tooth parts, take them with you. If a tooth is knocked out, rinse it with water and don’t hold it by the root. Try to place it back in the socket and hold until you can see the dentist. If you can’t do that, keep the tooth in milk. 

  • If your child has severe bleeding, pain or excessive swelling, a trip to the emergency room may be necessary, but otherwise, emergency room doctors cannot perform dental services. 


Severe Burns

The most common causes of burns, according to kidshealth.org, are scalds from hot liquids, flames or fireworks, chemical burns and overexposure to the sun. Burns are categorized into first-degree (the mildest burn), second-degree and third-degree, and it’s helpful to know which one you’re dealing with before you start treatment. 

Symptoms of first-degree burns include: redness, pain, minor swelling and dry skin without blisters.

Second-degree burns produce blisters, severe pain and redness. The blisters often break open and cause the area to look wet with a bright pink or cherry red color. They can take up to three weeks to heal. 

Third-degree burns are the most serious and affect the top layers of skin as well as underlying tissue. The skin looks dry and waxy-white, leathery, brown or charred. The area may feel numb because of nerve damage. These burns require emergency services and may need to be treated with skin grafts. 

Immediate medical treatment is necessary for:

  • Second- or third-degree burns 

  • Burns spanning more than 2-3 inches in diameter. 

  • For burns covering more than 10 percent of the body, call 911. Don’t use wet compresses or ice; cover the area with a clean cloth or towel.

  • Burns from a fire, an electrical wire or socket or chemicals

  • Burns on the face, hands, scalp, joint surfaces or genitals

  • Skin that looks infected with swelling, pus, increasing redness or red streaking near the wound


Is This an Emergency?

Parents don’t always know which situations require an emergency room visit, which ones can go to urgent care and which ones can wait to see your regular pediatrician. Broken bones may seem like a reason to go to the emergency room, but if the break is located on the hand, wrist or foot, it can probably be treated by urgent care. More severe breaks involving the torso or hips, multiple fractures, or when the bone has broken the skin, should be treated in the emergency room.


Visit urgent care or your child’s pediatrician for:

  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

  • Coughs, colds or sore throat

  • Upset stomach

  • Bladder and urinary tract infections

  • Bumps, minor cuts and scrapes

  • Ear aches

  • Sinus pain

  • Skin irritation or rashes

  • Sprains or strains

Vist the emergency room or call 911 for: 

  • Fainting, loss of consciousness, seizure or convulsions

  • Fever (temperature greater than 100.4) in a newborn

  • Rapid or difficulty breathing

  • Sudden dizziness, weakness or change in vision

  • Change in behavior, such as confusion or difficulty waking

  • Severe or persistent vomiting or vomiting blood

  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea with dry lips or mouth and/or decreased urination

  • Severe or persistent diarrhea or blood in stools

  • Profuse bleeding or bleeding that won't stop with direct pressure after 15 minutes

  • A gaping wound with edges that don't come together

  • Problems with movement or sensation after an injury

  • A stiff neck associated with fever or headache

  • Accidents involving pedestrians or bicycles and cars

  • A red/purple rash that doesn't disappear when brief fingertip pressure is applied to the skin

  • A bulging or sunken fontanel (soft spot) in infants

  • Sudden severe pain anywhere in the body

  • Falls from any significant height

  • Mental health concerns 

Source: legacyhealth.org

Before You Go

How to prepare for a hospital visit

  • At your next visit, talk to your pediatrician about which hospital you should choose in an emergency.

  • Know your child’s health history: Keep a notebook or digital notes about your child’s recent medications, tests, allergies and other information.

  • Don’t forget your health insurance ID card.

  • If your child has a fever, you should give a dose of fever-reducing medication before you go to the hospital, if you haven’t already, or bring a dose if you think another will be needed while you wait.

  • Bring items to comfort and keep your child busy in the waiting area.

  • Tell your child what to expect to reduce his or her anxiety.