When your child is injured....

Warm sunny weather provides the perfect opportunity for parents to power down electronic screens and chase their kids out of the house and into the great outdoors.

Makes sense, right?

After all, increased screen time leads to decreased physical activity and increased snacking, essential ingredients for obesity. But let's face it... the great outdoors has problems of its own: injuries!

Head contusions, bee stings, lacerations, broken bones and sprained ankles. You don't get these from a couple hours on the PlayStation. Let your kids run around outside, and you have a different story.

Still, the benefit of outdoor activity outweighs the risk. And there are things you can do to prevent injuries, such as cycling with helmets, skating with knee pads and wrist guards, taking swimming lessons, and good old-fashioned adult supervision.

But sometimes our best effort still leads to an accident. At these times, parents ask themselves an important question: Where do we turn for help?

The answer is easy at the extreme ends of the spectrum. Moms and dads know how to deal with simple abrasions, washing the wound and applying antibiotic ointment and a Band-Aid. Severe life-threatening injuries are also straight forward—keep the head and neck still, check breathing and circulation, apply pressure to active bleeding, call 911.

But what about those middle-of-the-road injuries? Should you go to a pediatric urgent care or the full-blown emergency department? The answer depends on the exact nature of your child's injury. And while I can provide general guidelines, you should always call your child's doctor for the right advice in your particular situation.

Nationwide Children's Hospital's five Urgent Care locations offer treatment for minor injuries that need immediate attention. These would include simple head injuries, small lacerations and burns, possible broken bones, sprains and strains, and mild allergic reactions.

Children with serious injuries need the resources of the Nationwide Children's Emergency Department. Significant head injuries (with loss of consciousness, behavior changes, or multiple episodes of vomiting). Falls from great height. Large deep lacerations. Large blistered burns. Obvious broken bones with a deformed arm or leg. Severe allergic reactions with difficulty breathing or swallowing. These require emergency care.

How to get your child to the emergency department is another common question. Should you use the family car or summon an emergency squad? Again, the answer depends on your child's specific situation, and his or her doctor can help you decide.

Transport by ambulance can be scary for children, but having some experience with emergency workers and equipment prior to an actual emergency can ease their fear. One way to get this experience is the COSI EMS & Safety Day on Sunday, May 19, 2013 from noon to 4 pm. Your child can meet emergency personnel, look inside their vehicles, and watch a MedFlight helicopter land and take-off on the COSI lawn. Great stuff!

If you'd like more information about Nationwide Children's Urgent Care, check out our handy Parent Guide. We also have magnets available with our five Urgent Care locations and phone numbers. You'll find them inside COSI at the little kidspace desk. Be sure to tell them "Dr. Mike" sent you!

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