First Aid Poisoning

Poisoning

Specific information concerning treatment can be obtained from accompanying labels or written documentation such as the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet). Expert advice (poison control center) and rapid transport to advanced medical care (EMS) is urgently needed in poisoning cases.

A poisoning victim may require basic life support at any moment; monitor the victim’s ABCs throughout.

Absorbed Poisons

Absorbed poisons are taken into the body through unbroken skin. Absorbed poisons are especially dangerous as they may not only cause local damage, but they can enter the bloodstream and cause widespread damage. It is important to note that certain poisons such as agricultural chemicals or insecticides may enter the bloodstream through absorption while leaving the skin undamaged.

Treatment

As with any type of poisoning, EMS or Poison Control Center should be called immediately and the rescuer should start with the initial assessment and treat any life-threatening problems before continuing.

Rescuers should always wear at least one set of gloves. Filter masks should also be worn to prevent inhalation.

Topical poisons tend to be in either a powder or liquid form. The treatment for either form is the same. First, remove any excess poison from the affected (clothing) area, being careful not to inhale or touch it. Wash the affected area for at least 20 minutes to dilute the poison.

Inhaled Poisons

Inhalation injuries can come from a variety of sources including the inhalation of smoke, gasses, and chemicals. Get victim to fresh air. Use caution in giving rescue breathing to a person overcome by hazardous chemicals, as you may be contaminated in doing so.

Ingested Poisons

Internal poisoning may not be immediately apparent. Symptoms, such as vomiting are sufficiently general that an immediate diagnosis cannot be made. The best indication of internal poisoning may be the presence of an open container of medication or toxic household chemicals. Check the label for specific first aid instructions for that specific poison.

Call for help immediately as advanced medical care will be required. If possible contact a poison control center and provide information about the suspected poison. Depending on the type of poison, the poison control center may suggest additional first aid measures. These might include dilution with water or milk, administration of syrup of ipecac or activated charcoal, or the use of other common household products as improvised emergency antidotes. Do not apply such measures without the benefit of expert advice.

Induced vomiting may do more harm than good.

Vomit may also block the airway. However, induced vomiting may be necessary with some poisons to save the victim’s life.

Injected Poisons

An injection poisoning can occur from a variety of sources. From drug abuse to insect bites/stings to animal bites. Poison Control Centers will provide the best information for first aiders. Basic treatment involves monitoring the patients ABCs, treating for shock, observing the patient for an allergic reaction, and calming the patient.

To help EMS, gain as much information about the poison as you can. What it was, when it was injected, how it was injected, and if the person has any allergies to the injection. (For example a bee sting causing anaphylaxis.)

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