First-Aid for Poisoning

By Dr. Ramaz Mitaishvili
Sometimes accidental poisonings can be treated in the home following the
direction of a poison control center or your child's physician. At other times,
emergency medical care is necessary. Swallowed poison:
If you find your child with an open or empty container of a toxic substance, your
child may have been poisoned. Stay calm and act quickly:
Get the poison away from the child.
If the substance is still in the child's mouth, make him/her spit it out or remove
it with your fingers (keep this along with any other evidence of what the child
has swallowed).
Do not make the child vomit (your child's physician or poison control center will
instruct you when it is necessary to make the child vomit).
Do not follow instructions on packaging regarding poisoning as these are often
outdated; instead call your child's physician or poison control center
immediately for instructions.
If your child has any of the following symptoms, call 911 right away.
• sore throat
• trouble breathing
• drowsiness, irritability, or jumpiness
• nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain without fever
• lip or mouth burns or blisters
• unusual drooling
• strange odors on your child's breath
• unusual stains on your child's clothing
• seizures or unconsciousness
Take or send the poison container with your child to help the physician
determine what was swallowed. If your child does not have these symptoms,
call your local poison control center or your child's physician. They will need the
following information in order to help you:
• your name and phone number
• your child's name, age, and weight
• any medical conditions your child may have
• any medications your child may be taking
• the name of the substance your child swallowed - read it from the
container and spell it
• the time your child swallowed the poison (or when you found your child),
and the amount you think was swallowed.
• any symptoms your child may be having
• If the substance was a prescription medication, give all the information
on the label including the name of the drug
If the name of the drug is not on the label, give the name and phone number of
the pharmacy, and the date of the prescription.
What the pill looked like (if you can tell) and if it had any printed numbers or
letters on it.
If your child swallowed another substance, such as a part of a plant, describe it
as much as you can to help identify it.
Poison on the skin:
If your child spills a chemical on his/her body, remove any contaminated clothes
and rinse the skin well with lukewarm - not hot - water. If the area shows signs
of being burned or irritated, continue rinsing for at least 15 minutes, no matter
how much your child may protest. Then, call the poison center for further
instructions. Do not use ointments, butter, or grease on the area.
Poison in the eye(s):
Flush your child's eye by holding the eyelid open and pouring a small, steady
stream of lukewarm water - not hot - into the inner corner near the nose. Allow
the water to run across the eye to the outside corner to flush the area well. You
may need help from another adult to hold your child while you rinse the eye; or
wrap your child tightly in a towel and hold your child under one arm. Continue
flushing the eye for 15 minutes, and call the poison center for further
instructions. Do not use an eyecup, eye drops, or ointment unless the poison
center instructs you to do so.
Poisonous fumes or gases:
In the home, poisonous fumes can be emitted from the following sources:
a car running in a closed garage
leaky gas vents
wood, coal, or kerosene stoves that are not working properly
mixing bleach and ammonia together, which makes chloramine gas
strong fumes from other cleaners and solvents
If your child breathes in fumes or gases, get him/her into fresh air right away.
If your child is breathing without problem, call the poison center for further
If your child is having difficulty breathing, call 911 or your local emergency
service (EMS).
If your child has stopped breathing, start CPR and do not stop until your child
breathes on his/her own or someone else can take over. If you can, have
someone call 911 right away. If you are alone, perform CPR for one minute and
then call 911.

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