Poisoning First Aid Instructions

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A bottle of poison

If the individual collapses, has a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can’t be awakened: Call for help IMMEDIATELY.

How you treat someone who may have been poisoned depends on:

  • The person’s symptoms
  • The person’s age
  • Whether you know the type and amount of the substance that caused poisoning

There are some quick first aid measures that make a difference if accomplished within seconds to minutes of the poison exposure. Be familiar with the first aid steps for swallowed poisons and poisons in the eye, on the skin, or inhaled (breathed in).


Drink a small amount of water or milk immediately, before getting if:

  • The product swallowed is burning, irritating or caustic, AND
  • The person is conscious, not having convulsions, and able to swallow. 


  • Syrup of ipecac. Don’t give syrup of ipecac or do anything to induce vomiting. Expert groups, including the American Association of Poison Control Centers and the American Academy of Pediatrics, no longer endorse using ipecac in children or adults who have taken pills or other potentially poisonous substances. No good evidence proves its effectiveness, and it often can do more harm than good. If you still have old bottles of syrup of ipecac in your home, throw them away.
  • Button batteries. The small, flat batteries used in watches and other electronics — particularly the larger, nickel-sized ones — are especially dangerous to small children. A battery stuck in the esophagus can cause severe burns in as little as 2 hours. If you suspect that a child has swallowed one of these batteries, immediately take him or her for an emergency X-ray to determine its location. If the battery is in the esophagus, it will have to be removed. If it has passed into the stomach, it’s usually safe to allow it to pass on through the intestinal tract.
  • Medicated patches. If you think a child got hold of medicated patches (adhesive products for transdermal drug delivery), carefully inspect the child’s skin and remove any that are attached. Also check the roof of the mouth, where they can get stuck if the child sucks on them.

Poisons in the EYE, on the SKIN, or INHALED:

in the EYEon the SKININHALED
It’s important that you irrigate (rinse the exposed eyes) immediately. Every second matters and a delay could result in loss of sight. Remove contact lenses. Use lots of room temperature water and irrigate for at least 15 to 20 minutes.

Adults and older children may find it easier to hop in the shower. Wrap young children in a towel and let water from the faucet in the kitchen sink run over the eye – or slowly pour water from a pitcher. Let the water hit the bridge of the nose and gently run into the eyes rather than pouring the water directly into the eye. Important: Irrigate for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Encourage blinking.

After the 15 to 20 minute irrigation, let the eye rest while you call Poison Control for additional help. If irritation, pain, visual problems, redness, swelling, or tearing persist an hour after irrigation is started, you’ll need an urgent ophthalmic exam. That means a trip to an urgicenter or emergency room right away, unless an eye doctor can see you immediately. If the symptoms are severe, don’t wait an hour – go straight to an emergency room after irrigating.

After irrigating, call the ambulance or visit the hospital.
It’s important that you rinse the exposed skin immediately. Remove contaminated clothing first (that’s clothing with a spill). Every second matters. Don’t delay. Use lots of room temperature running water and rinse for at least 15 minutes. For large spills, adults and older children may find it easiest to hop in the shower. Mild hand soap can be used to remove material that sticks to the skin. Important: Rinse for at least 15 minutes.

After the 15 minute rinse, call Poison Control for additional guidance. If blistering, large or deep burns, pain, redness, or swelling worsen or persist, you will need to see a doctor right away. But first call the poison specialists at Poison Control to see whether a trip to an urgicenter or emergency room is urgent or necessary. If the symptoms are severe, go straight to an emergency room after rinsing. Don’t wait.

After irrigating,  call the ambulance or visit the hospital. 
It’s important that you move to fresh air immediately. Stay away from all toxic fumes and gases. Thoroughly ventilate the involved area.

After moving to fresh air,  call the ambulance or visit the hospital.
Always call for help first

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