You rely on chemicals every day to maintain your property, power your vehicle, and even treat medical conditions. While such chemicals can be beneficial in the correct amounts, they can be poisonous in large quantities. Poisoning can lead to death or injury and requires immediate response.
In many cases, poisoning affects small children who are not old enough to understand the danger. Therefore, you as a caretaker have to know what to do.
1. Call for Help
If the individual is in severe distress, e.g., having seizures, difficult breathing, or is unconscious, you should call emergency services. This is also true in the case of a suspected accidental or intentional overdose of drugs. However, if the person shows no symptoms and is stable, you can call Poison Help. You should be prepared to provide any pertinent information, e.g., if there are bottles present with compromised tamper-evident caps, you should give the information on the bottle to emergency services or Poison Help.
2. Recognize the Symptoms
Look specifically for signs that are specific to poisoning, such as breath that smells like chemicals or burns around the mouth. Other serious symptoms of poisoning, such as altered mental status, difficulty breathing, or vomiting, warrant medical attention but are similar to symptoms of other conditions.
3. Remove the Poison
If someone may have swallowed poison, look inside his or her mouth. Remove anything that remains. Check the roof of the mouth because something like a medicated transdermal patch might get stuck there. Do not induce vomiting unless instructed to do so by emergency services or poison control. This is no longer widely recommended because the risks typically outweigh the benefits.
Sometimes exposure to poison occurs via a route other than the mouth. Get the person into fresh air if poison is inhaled and flush an eye that has been exposed to poison for 20 minutes with cool or lukewarm water. Rinse skin exposed to poison in a shower or with a hose for 15 to 20 minutes after removing any contaminated clothing.