What will you do if your child is poisoned?

Appropriate first-aid measures should be initiated at once when it has become clear or is strongly suspected that a poisoning may have occurred. Many folks think that by calling 911, an EMT will arrive and provide an antidote to whatever poison was taken. Unfortunately for most, if not all, poisons there is no such thing. There are very few actual antidotes and they usually require a physician’s direction for use. I am not saying don’t call 911, you absolutely should, immediately. Treatments for poisoning will generally fall under a few categories. They are dilution, vomiting and absorbents.

In general, the most important treatment that needs to take place is dilution and then removal of poison via vomiting. You can start this treatment before the paramedics arrive. First, if you know the poison, read the label and see what the directions say for accidental ingestion. To dilute a poison, have the patient drink one or two glasses of milk or water. Keep in mind, this treatment can only be administered if the patient is awake. You must observe the patient carefully to determine their state of consciousness before you decide to induce vomiting. Vomiting can be more harmful than helpful and you must not induce vomiting if the patient is unconscious or convulsing. Do not induce vomiting if the patient has swallowed a strong corrosive such as acid or lye or drain cleaner or if the substance has caused burning of the lips or throat. Vomiting could cause more burning damage. Do not induce vomiting if the poison contains kerosene, gasoline, lighter fluid, furniture polish or other petroleum distillates. It could cause chemical pneumonia if aspirated into the lungs.

The most effective way to induce vomiting for patients one year old or older is to administer one tablespoon of ipecac, followed by another glass of water. You should already have this in the house if you have children around. Most patients will vomit within 15 to 20 minutes, if not sooner. If no vomiting has occurred by twenty minutes, you may give one more tablespoon of ipecac. You must stay with the patient always so as to help prevent aspiration of the vomit into the lungs. Placing the child or person on their side with their head and body slightly elevated on a downward slope will help prevent this from happening. ( You can use pillows. )

When discussing absorbents, activated charcoal can be very effective absorbing toxins. You should call the poison control center hotline to ask if this is the preferred way of treating your child. For a poison emergency in the U.S. call 1-800-222-1222 to receive lifesaving information. ( This phone number should be on your fridge if you have children. ) Something to keep in mind, activated charcoal inhibits the vomiting action of ipecac. So, activated charcoal should only be given after the child or person has vomited. Mix one or two tablespoons in a glass of water and have them drink it immediately. You don’t want all the charcoal to sink to the bottom of the glass.

One last thing to discuss is contact or surface poisonings. Some toxins will cause tissue irritation or destruction when it touches the skin, mucous membranes or the eyes. These corrosive agents must be removed immediately from contact with the person or child. For skin contact, wash the effected area thoroughly with soap and water. If the clothing is contaminated, direct a stream of water under the clothing as you remove it. This will help with quick removal of the toxin. Chemical irritants in the eye or mucous membranes should be flushed with copious amounts of water and of course, immediate medical attention.

Remember the first thing you should do in the event of a suspected poisoning is to call 911. While you wait for the paramedics to arrive, you can start to administer treatment. Be sure to tell the paramedics exactly what treatment you have done so they know what not to do. Please be sure to lock up all possible toxins so children cannot access them by any means. Thank you for reading my article, I hope you never have to use what you just learned.

Do you know what to do?

Do you know what to do if someone you know has been accidentally poisoned? Accidental poisonings are more common with children, most adult poisonings are usually the result of a suicide attempt or foul play or alcohol or drug related. A poison could change a normal metabolic function or completely destroy life supporting functions. Poisoning may result from ingestion, inhalation, injection, surface contact or absorption. Knowing the symptoms and what to do about a poisoning could possibly save the life of a loved one. In the following paragraphs, I will give you the basics of how to recognize and what to do in the event of a poisoning.

The first consideration in the treatment of a poisoning is to determine whether or not a poisoning has actually occurred. Some common symptoms that are easily recognized include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, excessive salivation or sweating, abnormal respiration, papillary (pupil) dilation or constriction, unconsciousness and convulsions. You should always suspect a poisoning with any unexplained severe illness. A very important aid in determining if the child or person has been poisoned is to search the general area where the patient is at or has recently been. Finding objects such as bottles or containers can give a clue as to what may have happened. Poisonous substances most likely to be ingested can include foods, drinks, drugs, household products and plants.


In general, the most important treatment that needs to take place is dilution and then removal of poison via vomiting. You can start this treatment before the paramedics arrive. First, if you know the poison, read the label and see what the directions say for accidental ingestion. To dilute a poison, have the patient drink one or two glasses of milk or water. Keep in mind, this treatment can only be administered if the patient is awake. You must observe the patient carefully to determine their state of consciousness before you decide to induce vomiting. Vomiting can be more harmful than helpful and you must not induce vomiting if the patient is unconscious or convulsing. Do not induce vomiting if the patient has swallowed a strong corrosive such as acid or lye or drain cleaner or if the substance has caused burning of the lips or throat. Vomiting could cause more burning damage. Do not induce vomiting if the poison contains kerosene, gasoline, lighter fluid, furniture polish or other petroleum distillates. It could cause chemical pneumonia if aspirated into the lungs.

The most effective way to induce vomiting for patients one year old or older is to administer one tablespoon of ipecac, followed by another glass of water. You should already have this in the house if you have children around. Most patients will vomit within 15 to 20 minutes, if not sooner. If no vomiting has occurred by twenty minutes, you may give one more tablespoon of ipecac. You must stay with the patient always so as to help prevent aspiration of the vomit into the lungs. Placing the child or person on their side with their head and body slightly elevated on a downward slope will help prevent this from happening. ( You can use pillows. )

When discussing absorbents, activated charcoal can be very effective absorbing toxins. You should call the poison control center hotline to ask if this is the preferred way of treating your child. For a poison emergency in the U.S. call 1-800-222-1222 to receive lifesaving information. ( This phone number should be on your fridge if you have children. ) Something to keep in mind, activated charcoal inhibits the vomiting action of ipecac. So, activated charcoal should only be given after the child or person has vomited. Mix one or two tablespoons in a glass of water and have them drink it immediately. You don’t want all the charcoal to sink to the bottom of the glass.

One last thing to discuss is contact or surface poisonings. Some toxins will cause tissue irritation or destruction when it touches the skin, mucous membranes or the eyes. These corrosive agents must be removed immediately from contact with the person or child. For skin contact, wash the effected area thoroughly with soap and water. If the clothing is contaminated, direct a stream of water under the clothing as you remove it. This will help with quick removal of the toxin. Chemical irritants in the eye or mucous membranes should be flushed with copious amounts of water and of course, immediate medical attention.

Remember the first thing you should do in the event of a suspected poisoning is to call 911. While you wait for the paramedics to arrive, you can start to administer treatment. Be sure to tell the paramedics exactly what treatment you have done so they know what not to do. Please be sure to lock up all possible toxins so children cannot access them by any means. Thank you for reading my article, I hope you never have to use what you just learned.

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