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Poisoning first aid

  • Definition

    Poisoning is caused by swallowing, injecting, breathing in, or otherwise being exposed to a harmful substance. Most poisonings occur by accident.

    Immediate first aid is very important in a poisoning emergency. The first aid you give before getting medical help can save a person's life.

    This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.


    Millions of poisonings are reported to United States poison control centers every year, with many deaths.

    It is important to note that just because a package does not have a warning label doesn't mean it is safe. You should consider poisoning if someone suddenly becomes sick for no apparent reason, or if the person is found near a furnace, car, fire, or in an area that is not well ventilated.

    Symptoms of poisoning may take time to develop. However, if you think someone has been poisoned, do not wait for symptoms to develop before getting that person medical help.


    Items that can cause poisoning include:

    • Carbon monoxide gas (from furnaces, gas engines, fires, space heaters)
    • Certain foods (See: Food Poisoning)
    • Chemicals in the workplace
    • Drugs, including over-the-counter and prescription medicines (such as an aspirin overdose) and illicit drugs such as cocaine
    • Household detergents and cleaning products
    • Household and outdoor plants (eating toxic plants)
    • Insecticides
    • Paints