What To Do If You Accidentally Drink Kerosene


When I was a toddler I accidentally drank kerosene.

In Jamaica, especially in the country side, water is always an issue especially in the warmer months when there is no rain. People store water on containers we call jugs, but they are in fact bottles.

It is not common for people to label containers and children often don't know the difference. Kerosene used to be stored under the kitchen sink. Of course it has it's own colour, a pale yellowish hue, and it smells. But usually it doesn't smell until you actually pour it. If you have an uncovered container of kerosene sitting still in a corner and it is untouched you will not really smell it until someone upsets it. Here goes the dilemma. If a child is thirsty and an adult is not around that child might be inclined to drink the kerosene by drinking directly from the container.

During the 70s and 80s a lot of kids were becoming ill from drinking kerosene so the government requested a coloured kerosene be sold instead. So we got an aqua coloured kerosene but it was fazed out after a while. We now have a slightly yellow kerosene and the smell is more awful than ever.


Here is what happened

I was about three years old, my mother was at work and I was left with a babysitter. Now to tell the truth I don't remember if my brother or sister was the babysitter at the time so I will just refer to the person as babysitter.

In those days Kerosene was very popular in Jamaica because people used Kerosene lamps and kerosene stoves a lot. I believe the kerosene was stored under the sink in the kitchen in a plastic gallon bottle similar to those we would fetch water in.

I don't remember doing it but I do remember the taste of it in my mouth and the stench of it. Every time I smell kerosene now the memory of that awful taste and a very bad deja vu would overcome me. I would feel sick to the stomach as if I wanted to hurl.

I fell sick to my stomach and it was discovered that I had drank some of the kerosene. I was taken to the hospital and my stomach pumped. I was released with medication or so I was told but the most vivid memory I have is that I was given a tea of kola nut to drink. In Jamaica we call the kola nut "bissy". It is a powerful antidote and was used in those days to counter attack poison.

I was later told that I was thirsty and being the little miss independent I wanted to fetch the water myself, so I took my cup and poured the kerosene in. So I had just about a cup of the awful stuff. The cup was a toddler cup so it can't have been more than four ounces. Apparently the bottle was not full either since I was able to lift it and pour.


Can Kerosene kill?

Yes it can!

Kerosene can cause death up to a month after consumption depending on the quantity swallowed.

Here are the effects of kerosene in humans:

  • Inhalation: Damage to the airways and lungs which leads to breathing difficulties. The throat may also get swollen.
  • Eyes: Kerosene can cause blindness and it certainly can cause pain in the eyes.
  • If swallowed: Abdominal pain, may vomit blood and have bloody stool
  • If absorbed into the blood stream can lower the blood pressure very rapidly which can damage the heart.
  • Drinking Kerosene can damage the nervous system too. People will feel drowsy, depressed, headaches, feel drunk, weak, dizzy and staggering.
  • Kerosene can burn the skin and cause irritation.

What to do if you accidentally drink kerosene?

  • Get to the emergency immediately! Call 911 or have someone take you to the hospital. Do not try to vomit or drink water.
  • Flush eyes with water if kerosene got into eye
  • Wash area on skin where kerosene came in contact
  • Get to a hospital if you feel dizzy or lightheaded after inhaling fumes.

Kerosene is a dangerous product that should be stored properly and away from the reach of children. My mom certainly learned her lesson and has been careful ever since.

Chemicals like kerosene and gasoline should not be stored inside the house because not only are they dangerous if inhaled or consumed but very flammable and ignites at the smallest spark.

If you live in a country where Kerosene is sold at the corner shop in unmarked containers, label your container properly. Store it in a safe place where a child cannot reach or get to it.

I am alive today but it could have been fatal. Yes, consuming kerosene can kill, a slow painful death. Don't mean to scare you but it is the truth.

© 2012 Carolee Samuda

More by this Author

Comments 53 comments

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Hi, Cardisa, when you mentioned the kola nut to clear your system I remembered reading about that a while ago, that must have been awful! thank goodness you managed to get help quickly, otherwise we wouldn't be able to read your hubs today! phew! lol! seriously though, great info about the damage it can cause by drinking etc, nell

profile image

Sunnie Day 4 years ago

OH wow Cardisa...this was scary..I am glad you made it through that horrible ordeal. Thank you for all the information.



rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Cardisa,that is an interesting story. I'm glad you are OK, and this testimonial is the best warning for parents.Thanks for sharing!

Lord De Cross profile image

Lord De Cross 4 years ago

Wow! That was scary Cardisa!

A cousin of mine did drink Kerosene, and was rushed to the hospital... he got saved indeed, but he thought he was already gone!. Hope you are fine! Thanks for sharing!


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hey Nell when I saw the question the other day, I had to write about it because many kids in those days drank kerosene and I was one of them. The government started to add some colour to the oil to make it sort of a bluish green. Now it has a slightly yellowish colour. I know that in it's original form it is basically colourless.

Kerosene taste and smell awful! Thanks Nell, I am glad I am still alive!

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thanks Sunnie, I can still remember that awful taste in my mouth. Every time I see or small the stuff it brings back that awful taste...lol

Thanks Sunnie, so glad I am here.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thanks Rebecca, I am so glad I made it too. That experience make me hate kerosene. If I can help it I don't use the stuff. I hope parents realise that any fuel is dangerous to have around their kids.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Yes Lord, I am fine. I am also glad your cousin is fine too. Getting the person to the emergency is the best thing you can do to save them.

Thanks Lord.

Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

Thank goodness you were all right Carolee. How about the Kola Nut antidote though. Lets hope your excellent advice here saves a child in future. Just can't understand how older ones can sniff deadly stuff like petrol, guess kerosene too.

WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

I bet you didn't get worms after that.

I had a sign business. I poured some paint thinner (distilled kerosene) in a pint water bottle for a friend who stopped by. He took the wrong bottle when he left. Later, I was so thirsty, I turned up a water bottle with all intent of draining it.

I knew what to do. Still, for days, I was burping up fumes.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States

It is so fortunate that someone realized what you had done and got you medical treatment. My little cousin did the same thing but they caught him in the act and got treatment also. I am glad to know about the Kola nut and its properties. A very interesting hub.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hey Alastar, I had a best friend when we were teenagers who loved the small of the gas station, I just couldn't understand...lol But Kerosene has an ugly scent. I don't get how people sniff these things.

I am glad I am all right too or I would not know my friends here on HP.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

WD, come to think of it I don't remember ever having worms...lol

Wow, that must have been some experience. The very thought of you drinking the stuff is making my stomach upset.

I am so glad you are all right.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hey Pamela, the truth is there is no actual memory of me doing it but I do remember the taste and the smell. When I smell kerosene now I remember how I felt back then.

I am glad you little cousin got help. Thanks for stopping by.

tlpoague profile image

tlpoague 4 years ago from USA

Hey sis, quite the story. I felt for you and was reminded of a story my dad once told us. He was little like you and drank some bleach. His mom freaked and took him to the hospital. Luckily enough he didn't drink enough to do much harm. The doc later cracked a joke about him having a clean system and not to worry about getting worms. My grandmother didn't see the humor in it though. I am glad to hear you are okay. This is important information for parents of children at any age. Thanks for sharing it.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hey Sis, glad to see you! Thanks, I am okay now. I need to ask my big brother if he was the babysitter at the time it happened..lol

Not doing so well today. I think you should check if any of yours, your sister or moms hubs are stolen form bigezine.com.

Just found a few of mine there. They seem to be stealing all the newly published hubs from HP.

WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

Hey, I have done worse than that and lived. I guess you can't cheat death. When it is your time . . .

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hey WD, me too. When it's not your time, it's just not your time.

WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

Lucky me!

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Lucky both of us WD, we are both lucky!

tom hellert profile image

tom hellert 4 years ago from home


You are really lucky kerosene is very toxic- if you had indian food or some spicy jerk chicken- you could have burnt up..ok really horrible joke I am sorry that was even bad for me (that's sayin somethin). and please note this from the Material safety Data Sheet see here for more info http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9924436

MSDS importantinfo:

If swallowed, do NOT induce vomiting. If swallowed, do not induce vomiting unless directed to do so by medical personnel.

Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person. Loosen tight clothing such as a collar, tie, belt or waistband. Get medical attention immediately.

and trust me "If its not your time its not your time"...


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hey Tom, I did read that and totally forgot to put that in when I wrote the hub. Thanks for the link and the added info.

That was a great joke...lol

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

I am surprised it did not do permanent damage, it had to have burned immediately. I cannot stand to even smell that stuff! Really, it does horrible things to my lungs. We had one winter the electric went off and we had a portable K heater and I had to go in a room with just cold, couldn't take the smell so so glad you survived that!

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hi Jackie, I think it takes a while to work and burn so there was no damage. I can still remember the taste of it in my mouth. Just awful. I hate kerosene.

Thanks Jackie.

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

Oh my gosh that could have turned out far worse.

Thanks for sharing as some of the content this hub could turn out useful at some time or other.

Take care and enjoy your day.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hi Eddy, glad you stopped by. Thanks, I am also very happy to be alive and ok with no long term problems.

Have a great day.

debbie roberts profile image

debbie roberts 4 years ago from Greece

You certainly were a very lucky child, I remember back when I was growing up there were public safety adverts warning people of the dangers of storing chemicals, such as petrol and paraffin in drinking bottles. Children don't know the dangers of these chemicals and drink them innocently thinking that they are drinks.

You never know, but hopefully this hub could go towards saving a child from inadvertently drinking chemicals.

Voted up and useful.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thanks Debbie. I do remember when I was much older that our government started a campaign about the same thing, chemicals in drink bottles. Another concern was having powdered pesticides in unlabelled plastic bags. We must be careful because children don't know the difference. Thanks for stopping by.

habee profile image

habee 4 years ago from Georgia

My middle daughter once drank kerosene as a kid, too. Useful info here. Voted up!

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hey Holle, thank God she is fine. I am sure she remembered the awful taste to this day. Thanks for stopping by.

Jacqui 4 years ago

I also drank kerosene as a child .I wonder about long time side effects as i now have lung problems and always cough a lot on food and drinks .Im glad your all good

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hi Jacqui,I am so sorry to hear about your problems with your lungs. I am not sure of the long term effects. I would have to check it out. I hope you are okay otherwise. Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope I can find some information for you.

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

Cardisa... thanks for sharing and glad you survived to share your tale and other wonderful writing with us :-)

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hey there PDX, nice to see you. Thanks for stopping by, glad I survived as well....lol

vibesites profile image

vibesites 4 years ago from United States

Just keep the kerosene out of reach especially if you've got little kids who don't know the dangers of these things. Thanks for the very important "safety guide" hub. Voted up and useful. :)

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica Author

Thank you for reading and commenting Vibesites. Happy New Year!

paollag profile image

paollag 3 years ago from London, United Kingdom

Hiya, is Paolla here, originally from Brazil living in London.

Thank you for the article, I actually started investigating this story in my family that I was accidentally fed a baby bottle filled with kerosene as a baby. Mostly to diagnose some current health issues. I literally googled 'child drinks kerosene' and I couldn't believe I found an article which not only made me understand better what happens (as details of this are very hush hush in my family) but also that it can be done with no malice.

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 3 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hello Paollag, I hope there were no damages done to your body as a result of being fed this fuel. It could have been fatal but thank God you are still with us. I hope these practices are no longer in existence and people can find better ways to cure health issues.

Junjill Leonor profile image

Junjill Leonor 3 years ago from Malaybalay, Bukidnon

hello please help me my problem i have experience very sick now i think somebody intentional poisoning me he put a small amount of kerosene mix in soft drink when i buy in restaurant what medicine can cure it? please help me

Junjill Leonor profile image

Junjill Leonor 3 years ago from Malaybalay, Bukidnon


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 3 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hello Junjil Leonor, you should go to the hospital and let them check to see if you ingested the fuel. Take one of the drink with you fro them to check. If it turns out that someone is intentionally feeding you kerosene you may report them to the police.

2 years ago

I did it too when I was 7 or 8. Gulped in about 250ml before I started choking. It was managed alright., however, I suspect it may have triggered asthma in me (mild, but present)

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 2 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hi V, I am glad to know you are okay. Sorry that you got asthma because of it. Thanks for stopping by.

amir bahari 2 years ago

Hi. I have been taking a teaspoon of kerosene in the past year about once a month. So far i feel healthy. An overdose may lead to diarrhea and just that.

Kerosene is also useful for minor cuts by applying a small quantity on the wound.

Just to share my experience.

pankaj 2 years ago

my baby has drunk kerosean about 100 gm. so i want to help you that what i do .please help me

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 2 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hello Pankaj, take your baby to the emergency room immediately.

pontsho 2 years ago

My toddler drink a small amount of paraffin n don't know what to do!

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 2 years ago from Jamaica Author

Hello Pontsho, if it's just a small amount of kerosene you baby should be fine but just to be sire take him/her to the nearest health center.

nirupam 2 years ago

I was sleeping with my nephew..when he suddenly put some kerosene inside my mouth,may be around 30-50 ml, I immediately took milk,and water, and vomited quite a times,but even after vomited there is burning sensation in my stomach.,i am worrying what is going to happen,may I going to die. please tell me what to do?

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 2 years ago from Jamaica Author

Nirupam, you are definitely not going to die. Drink lots of fluids (especially milk) and see your doctor as soon as possible.

rasto 24 months ago

Hi, I am worried .my 2 years old son has drank kerosine accidentally .......he has been rashed to hosiptal .please pray for him....

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 24 months ago from Jamaica Author

Hello Rasto, I hope he will be okay. I will keep your son in my prayers.

NAdz 20 months ago

hey cardisa

i drunk almost 200 ml of kerosin oil mistakenky as my nephew put it in water bottle and i vomit too then someones advise me to goto hospital after 30min u reached hospital but doctor said yoo need to get admited and we cant your stomach for kerosin oil , what should i do now?

someones advise me drink milk as much as you can so im drinking milk excessive.. please guide or correct me thank you

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Cardisa profile image

    Carolee Samuda (Cardisa)1,139 Followers
    162 Articles

    Carolee is a passionate writer with a love for learning and teaching. She is a published author, poet, blogger and content creator.

    Click to Rate This Article