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First Aid Overview

First Aid for Poisons and Overdoses

A person can be poisoned from a number of sources in a variety of ways. Because the cause may be unclear, proper first aid is essential.

Causes: Poison can enter the body by inhalation, ingestion, absorption, or injection. The most common sources of poisoning include cleaning supplies; cosmetics; plants; medications, such as analgesics; gases and vapors, such as gasoline; and pesticides.

Symptoms: Depending on the poison, signs may include rapid or difficult breathing; ringing in the ears; nausea; overexcitement; unconsciousness; burns on lips, mouth, and tongue; abdominal pain; vomiting; bloody vomit; abnormal skin color; seizures.

Emergency Treatment

  1. Check breathing. If it has stopped, see rescue breathing.

  2. Look for container from ingested substance, and try to determine what and how much victim swallowed and when.

  3. If victim is unconscious, call for EMS. If victim is conscious, call Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222. Be pre­pared to read label on container to emergency personnel and to indicate how much was swallowed and when.

    poison first aid
    Have the bottle of poison
    handy when calling
    for help.

  4. Follow instructions from emergency personnel. DO NOT give anything to eat or drink. DO NOT give antidotes or induce vomiting unless directed to do so by emergency personnel.

    Until EMS arrives:

  5. Place victim in Recovery Position. If victim vomits, clean out mouth.

  6. Give container from ingested substance to EMS.
To learn more about first aid and emergency care, see:
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.