Poisonings account for over 1.7 million emergency hospital visits in the United States every year.
If you suspect someone has been poisoned, immediately call 911 or the poison control center at 800-222-1222.
Knowing how to give first aid for poisoning is some knowledge you hopefully won’t ever need. Yet, it is immensely important if someone you know ingests, breathes, or touches a poison.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about poisonings and how you can start performing first aid if it happens.
When to Suspect Someone Is Poisoned
It is common for poisoning to look like other conditions such as alcohol or drug intoxication and seizure. You can suspect poison from some common symptoms it shows. They include the following.
- Altered mental state and confusion
- Breath smells of chemicals such as paint thinner or gasoline
- Difficulty breathing
- Burns or redness around the lips
If you suspect poison, search for signs such as scattered pills, empty pill bottles, stains, or burns.
When to Call 911
You should call 911 as soon as a person starts exhibiting the following symptoms.
- They are unconscious or drowsy
- They are having seizures
- Uncontrollable restlessness or agitation
- They have difficulty breathing or have stopped breathing
Poisoning in children is often very serious. It is better to call help immediately if you suspect poisoning than wait for symptoms to show.
When to Call Poison Control
If you live in the United States, you can call the poison control center at 800-222-1222. Call poison control when an adult exposed to poison is stable and has no symptoms.
Or, call them after the poisoned person is being transported by emergency services to start treatment.
Poison control will ask you a series of questions about the poisoned person and what happened. The following is a list of things you have to provide to poison control.
- The person’s symptoms
- Their name, age, and height
- Any medications they are taking
- What poisoned them
- The amount ingested or the length of their exposure
Depending on their case you may be subject to more questions. Poison control needs to have all the information on the case, so they can help you to their fullest ability.
What to Do While You Wait
When you are waiting for emergency services to arrive, there are some things you can do to minimize the damage of the poison. Let’s go over first aid for poisoning step by step with each type.
Poison on the Skin
If poison is on the skin, start by putting on gloves to protect yourself. Remove any clothing on the person that has been contaminated. Rinse the affected skin with water for up to 20 minutes.
If the poison has been swallowed, remove anything that is still in the person’s mouth. If you know what they were poisoned with, find the bottle and follow the instructions for poisoning.
Activated charcoal in your FASO first aid kit can help treat overdoses and poisoning. If instructed by 911 or the poison control center, administer the activated charcoal orally.
Poison in the Eye
If the poison has gotten in the eye, flush it out with lukewarm water over the sink. If the person is wearing contact lenses take them out after the first five minutes of rinsing. Do not let the victim rub their eyes.
If someone inhales poison, immediately help the person into a well-ventilated area or fresh air. If the person begins vomiting, make sure they are in a safe position. Follow the instructions given to you by emergency services.
Knowing How to Give First Aid for Poisoning
When you are in a position where you need to help a poisoned person, you should know what actions to take. With knowledge of first aid for poisoning, you could be the difference between life and death for that person.
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