Each year, as many as 20% of Americans are infected with influenza. If they received the flu shot, their symptoms may be mild, causing some inconvenience but no worry. However, for those who have a weakened immune system the symptoms of the flu bug will be alarming. Disorientation, fever, vomiting, etcetera are nasty side effects to handle. At some point, what appeared to be a mild illness crosses the line into something more worrying. This moment usually happens at an inconvenient time when your regular physician is out of the office, such as the weekend or late into the night. When the emergency room seems to be an over-reaction and your doctor is not available, you need to find the middle ground: enter the medical center.

Emergency centers are known for eating up quite a bit of time. The reason of course is triage: the most dire cases are seen first, and as these types of medical centers never close, the line of triage is constantly adjusting. You will be seen (eventually). Despite this universal knowledge, many people still assume their only option is to head to the emergency room whenever they have a concern outside of normal office hours. Instead of waiting for the next time disaster strikes, take some time today to find the closet urgent care medical center in your area. To decide which one should be your go-to, here are a few quick tips.

The U.S. has nearly 7,000 medical centers offering urgent care. Some are free-standing structures meant to serve a community that is some distance away from the nearest hospital. Many of these medical centers have areas of specialty, such as pediatric urgent care or those that act as STD testing sites. Clearly, there are quite a few offerings, but the real question is which clinic is right for you. And to answer that you will need to do some research.

Conducting an online search is probably your best bet, however before you do, double check if your doctor recommends a specific medical center for when he is unavailable. A word-of-mouth recommendation does go far in all fields. Next, consider what you may potential require from one of these urgent care clinics. Do you have rambunctious children who jump off the furniture and are likely to sprain a limb? Are you a man who lives alone and likes to work with heavy tools that could cause a serious (but not life-threatening) injury? It is not possible to see all disastrous ends, however; you have likely had a few near-misses before. Think back to those times when you thought about going to the emergency room but decided the injury or illness did not warrant it. Then, find the nearest medical clinic that could have treated the problem.

Although these facilities can offer many services, they do not all offer the same medical services. So find the one closest to you that can fix you or your loved ones up the next time an accident happens.