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Poisoning first aid

  • First Aid

    Seek immediate medical help.

    For poisoning by swallowing:

    1. Check and monitor the person's airway, breathing, and pulse. If necessary, begin rescue breathing and CPR.
    2. Try to make sure that the person has indeed been poisoned. It may be hard to tell. Some signs include chemical-smelling breath, burns around the mouth, difficulty breathing, vomiting, or unusual odors on the person. If possible, identify the poison.
    3. Do NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care professional.
    4. If the person vomits, clear the person's airway. Wrap a cloth around your fingers before cleaning out the mouth and throat. If the person has been sick from a plant part, save the vomit. It may help experts identify what medicine can be used to help reverse the poisoning.
    5. If the person starts having convulsions, give convulsion first aid.
    6. Keep the person comfortable. The person should be rolled onto the left side, and remain there while getting or waiting for medical help.
    7. If the poison has spilled on the person's clothes, remove the clothing and flush the skin with water.

    For inhalation poisoning:

    1. Call for emergency help. Never attempt to rescue a person without notifying others first.
    2. If it is safe to do so, rescue the person from the danger of the gas, fumes, or smoke. Open windows and doors to remove the fumes.
    3. Take several deep breaths of fresh air, and then hold your breath as you go in. Hold a wet cloth over your nose and mouth.
    4. Do not light a match or use a lighter because some gases can catch fire.
    5. After rescuing the person from danger, check and monitor the person's airway, breathing, and pulse. If necessary, begin rescue breathing and CPR.
    6. If necessary, perform first aid for eye injuries (eye emergencies) or convulsions ( convulsion first aid).
    7. If the person vomits, clear the person's airway. Wrap a cloth around your fingers before cleaning out the mouth and throat.
    8. Even if the person seems perfectly fine, get medical help.

    Do Not
    • Do NOT give an unconscious person anything by mouth.
    • Do NOT induce vomiting unless you are told to do so by the Poison Control Center or a doctor. A strong poison that burns on the way down the throat will also do damage on the way back up.
    • Do NOT try to neutralize the poison with lemon juice or vinegar, or any other substance, unless you are told to do so by the Poison Control Center or a doctor.
    • Do NOT use any "cure-all" type antidote.
    • Do NOT wait for symptoms to develop if you suspect that someone has been poisoned.

    Call immediately for emergency medical assistance if

    The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

    This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.

    See: Poison control center - emergency number