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First Aid For Poisoning

First Aid For Poisoning

Definition

Poisoning occurs when a person comes in contact with a toxic substance. Contact can mean swallowing, inhaling, touching, or injecting a toxic substance.

Risks

What are the causes and risks of the injury?

Poisons are found in many household items. Because they cannot read container labels, small children are more likely to be poisoned. Poisonous items include:
  • prescription or over-the-counter medications
  • detergents
  • plants
  • pesticides
  • animals
  • paint
  • cosmetics
  • illegal drugs
  • occupational gases
  • foods
  • gasoline, kerosene, and fuel oil
  • antifreeze
  • windshield washer fluid
  • household cleansers
  • charcoal lighter fluid
  • carbon monoxide
  • food that has not been properly cooked, canned, or stored

Prevention

What can be done to prevent the injury?

To prevent poisoning, follow these guidelines:
  • Keep all poisons out of children's reach.
  • Keep all prescriptions in a secure place out of children's reach.
  • Remove plants that can be poisonous to children or pets.
  • Teach children the meaning of the poison symbol on containers.
  • Be aware of poisonous substances around the house.
  • Report any industrial poisons that are harmful to family members to the local health department or the state or federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Do not store toxic or noxious substances in food containers.
  • Label all storage containers.
Be aware that many substances meant to be eaten can be toxic if taken in large amounts.

Diagnosed

How is the injury recognized?

If a person is unaware that he or she has been exposed to poison or is too ill to say what has happened, poisoning can be difficult to diagnose and treat. Healthcare professionals can do blood and urine tests to determine the type of poison..
If the poison is identified, seek emergency medical assistance and take the poison container. Healthcare professionals can provide appropriate treatment immediately if they know what the poison is.

Treatments

What are the treatments for the injury?

Call the local poison control center to seek medical assistance. These centers are operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Keep the number and address in an easy-to-reach place.
The number for the local poison control center can be found at www.poison.org, the website of the National Capital Poison Center or www.AAPCC.org, the official website of the American Association of Poison Control Centers, or by calling 800-222-1222.
If someone has swallowed poison:
  • Check for signs of circulation, such as normal breathing, coughing, or movement in response to stimulation.
  • Contact the emergency medical system immediately.
  • Start cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, if the person stops breathing. Use 15 chest compressions for every 2 mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths.
  • If the person does not need CPR, try to find out what poisoned him or her. Pay attention to burns or smells that may help to identify the poison.
  • Call the local poison control center and follow the instructions given.
  • Do not induce vomiting unless instructed to do so by a healthcare professional.
  • If the person vomits, protect the airway by turning his or her head to the side. The rescuer should wear gloves or wrap his or her hand in a cloth before cleaning out the person's mouth. The poison is probably still inside the person's stomach.
  • Reassure and observe the person until medical help arrives. If there is poison on the clothing, remove the clothing. Clean the skin with water.
If someone inhaled poison:
  • Call for help. Be careful and cautious. Do not try to rescue the person until it is certain that the gas has been cleared from the area.
  • Remove the person from the area. Before doing this, the rescuer should hold a wet cloth over his or her nose and mouth, and open all windows and doors to get rid of the fumes.
  • After removing the person from the danger, check for signs of circulation, such as normal breathing, coughing, or movement in response to stimulation.
  • Contact the emergency medical system immediately.
  • Start cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, if the person stops breathing. Use 15 chest compressions for every 2 mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths.
  • Protect the airway by turning the head to the side if the person vomits. Try to clear the person's mouth of any vomit.
  • Stay with the person until medical help arrives.
  • To avoid becoming ill, the rescuer should avoid the area or make sure the poison has been cleared from the area.

Side Effects

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Vomiting is the most common side effect of treatment. This may be a natural reaction to the poison..Be aware that the vomit can be inhaled into the lungs causing aspiration pneumonia. People providing care should take care to avoid inhaling or being sprayed by the poison.

After Treatment

What happens after treatment for the injury?

Most people recover fully from being poisoned. In some instances, there are serious injuries to the lungs or to the mouth and esophagus, which is the tube leading from the mouth to the stomach. These people will require long-term follow-up care from a healthcare professional. Prevention is the key to avoiding future occurrences.

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