Can You Handle An Emergency?

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Last week, we had a very scary incident in our home.  I was making dinner and three of my boys were playing in the bathroom.  They often have to “help” each other wash hands or go down the dark hallway, so this is pretty typical.  I knew something was wrong when I heard a different kind of scream come from my youngest, Charlie.  He’ll be two years old in May, so he’s still a bit of a little guy.  I ran down the hallway and ran into my eight year old, Remy, screaming “Charlie is bleeding!”.  I saw blood dripping all over the floor, on his shirt and all over Charlie’s hands, but it took me a couple seconds to find where exactly it was coming from.  

When it hit me, my heart dropped into my stomach.  My baby got part of his finger cut off in the door!  It started spurting blood so I grabbed his hand in my hand and clamped it tight.  I was so freaked out and scared so I yelled to Remy to go tell Poppy (my stepdad who was home).  I walked into the kitchen and yelled, “OMG, what do I do??”.  I was in a momentary state of shock but then I realized that he was missing part of his finger.  You know what that means…  The missing piece needs to be retrieved and put on ice, STAT!

The things you can do as a parent are amazing.  Having to pick a piece of my toddler’s finger from the door jamb is the most traumatizing thing I have ever had to do and I will probably have nightmares about it for the rest of my life, but I handled it.  I got his little finger piece while holding a bleeding toddler.  I told my step-dad to get a sandwich bag and put ice in it.  We put the piece in the bag, everyone ran to the truck and we drove (slightly illegally) to the nearest hospital.  Yes, we ran a red light.  No I didn’t put my toddler in a car seat.  Sometimes you do things you normally wouldn’t in an emergency.

We got to the hospital and by then, Charlie was calmed down (likely in shock) and not crying.  That was of course until they had to look at, clean and reattach his finger.  He cried and cried while I cried along with him.  There’s nothing in the world more heartbreaking than your own child being in pain.  He got his little finger numbed with lidocaine and they reattached it with no guarantees.  He was such a little trooped and did so well considering.  He’s been bandaged up for a week and we have an appointment with a plastic surgeon tomorrow to access the damage and see if/how well it is healing.

When to go to the ER:

  • If your child is burned on a large portion of his body, his face, hands, feet or genitals.
  • If your child has a finger or other body part slammed in a door where there is an amputation or possible broken bones.  Put any amputated body parts (I know, that sounds awful) on ice immediately.
  • A deep cut that needs stitches whether or not it is bleeding.
  • If your child is poked or hit in the eye with an object, it can be very serious.  You don’t want to take chances on losing vision!
  • If your child accidentally gets a hold of an alcoholic beverage or bottle of pills, head to the ER with what was consumed and tell how much you think was consumed.

When to treat at home or just call your pediatrician:

  • For minor burns, relieve pain with cool water, antibiotic cream and an ice pack.  
  • A stubbed toe with bruising or loss of toenail.  Unfortunately, if the nail is going to come off, you can’t really prevent it.  It’ll usually always grow back!  Keep it clean and dry.
  • Small cuts and scrapes that don’t need stitches.
  • If your child gets a tooth knocked out or chipped, call your dentist.  Make sure they don’t swallow the tooth.
  • If your child bit their tongue and it’s bleeding, apply pressure and a cool, damp cloth.  Tongues bleed a lot, but they also heal easily and quickly on their own.  
  • Hives can be a result of an allergic reaction.  You can give an allergy medicine and wait it out.  If your child starts to have trouble breathing, has swollen lips or tongue, starts vomiting or passing out, call 911 immediately.  
  • Kids have big heads that are a magnet for hard objects so goose eggs are going to happen.  Apply ice so the swelling will go down and keep an eye out for changes in behavior such as excessive sleepiness, irritability, vomiting or favoring one side.  

photo credit: Sura Nualpradid at

Comments on this post

How scary for all of you! You did a fantastic job taking care of your son and getting him the help he needed. I hope the dr.’s appointment goes well for him. Thanks for all the great tips about what to do and where to go.