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Emergency Checklist

We know it’s not easy to think quickly and clearly in a medical emergency. That’s why we’ve created a checklist to help you prepare.

If you suspect a medical problem is critical or life-threatening, call 911 immediately. If you’re the person who is in need of emergency care, get someone to drive you or call an ambulance — don’t attempt to drive yourself to the hospital.

Is This an Emergency?

The following are examples of medical emergencies:

  • Bleeding that won’t stop
  • Chest pain
  • Choking
  • Coughing up or vomiting blood
  • Deep wound
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Drooping or numbness on one side of your face or body
  • Head, neck or spine injury
  • Injury from a car accident or smoke inhalation
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Near drowning
  • Severe vomiting or diarrhea that won’t stop
  • Sudden dizziness, weakness or change in vision
  • Sudden, severe pain anywhere in the body
  • Suicidal or homicidal thoughts
  • Swallowing a poisonous substance
  • Unexplained confusion or unusual behavior
  • Upper abdominal pain or pressure

If you’re unsure whether or not you’re experiencing a medical emergency, it’s better to play it safe — seek medical care.

If It’s Not an Emergency

If you’re fairly certain that what you are experiencing isn’t an emergency, we recommend that you:

  • Call your doctor’s office — most have a number to call for after-hours services.
  • Call a nurse line for advice. The nurse can help you decide whether you should get help now or if it’s safe to wait.
  • Go to a walk-in, urgent care clinic.
  • Go to the emergency department if you feel that your problem can’t wait until your doctor’s office or local walk-in clinic opens.
  • Use the “Search” feature on this website to find information about your problem, including when to call a doctor and if there are any home treatments you can try.

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