Before You Call 911

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Concussion, Vomiting, Poisoning

4. Concussion

The problem: A hard blow to the head that can result in loss of consciousness.

When to get help: Many blows to the head produce nothing more than a tender bump. Others injure or bruise the brain and require immediate attention. A child who loses consciousness for more than 60 seconds, vomits repeatedly or can't be roused from sleep should be taken to the doctor. The same goes for a child who has a bump that's larger than 3 inches in diameter or who seems overly cranky or lethargic.

5. Vomiting

The problem: Children vomit for a myriad of reasons, most often because of the flu or gastrointestinal illnesses.

When to get help: Vomiting isn't a major medical worry unless it causes dehydration. If your child is vomiting everything you give her, reduce the quantity of fluids but increase the frequency. "Every fifteen or twenty minutes, give a few sips of fluid -- not water, which can be nauseating, but something like Pedialyte, an oral hydration solution," says Bruno. "Do that for three or four hours. If there's no vomiting, then increase the volume. If your child continues to vomit, call the doctor." Also contact your doctor if you notice any signs of dehydration -- the child hasn't urinated in six or more hours, has a dry mouth, sunken eyes or an absence of tears when crying. The soft spot on top of a baby's head will appear sunken if an infant becomes dehydrated.

6. Poisoning

The problem: According to a 1999 report in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, 53 percent of poisonings involve children under the age of 6. Household chemicals and plants, prescription and over-the-counter drugs, and cosmetic items are high on the list of toxins.

When to get help: Play it safe and call the American Association of Poison Control Centers (800-222-1222) whenever your child has swallowed something not meant to be ingested. If you find your child near an open cabinet full of cleaning supplies but you're not sure what -- if anything -- he swallowed, smell the child's mouth, face and clothes. If you detect anything suspicious -- or you're simply not sure -- call poison control. Get immediate help if you notice signs of poisoning -- a staggering walk, vomiting and excessive sleeping. Never induce vomiting without the advice of poison control. Some substances, like bleach and drain cleaners, burn the esophagus on the way down -- which means they will also burn it on the way up.

Continued on page 3:  Accidents, Choking


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