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How to Help Someone Who Has Been Poisoned

Would you know what to do if someone ingested poison? Equally important, would you know what not to do?


  • : Call 911 if the person you suspect has been poisoned is drowsy or unconscious, having difficulty breathing, or having seizures.
  • Step 1: Know the signs Know the signs of poisoning: burns or redness around the mouth; breath that smells like chemicals; burns, stains, and chemical odors on the person, their clothes, or their surroundings; empty medication bottles or scattered pills; vomiting; difficulty breathing; fatigue; and confusion.
  • TIP: Do not induce vomiting unless your local poison control center or a medical doctor tells you to do so. It can do more harm than good.
  • Step 2: Call the poison control center If you suspect poisoning and the person is unconscious or having difficulty breathing, call 911 immediately. If they are awake and alert, call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222. Follow their instructions.
  • TIP: If household cleaners are involved, look at the product label. It will also have instructions for what to do if the contents have been ingested.
  • Step 3: Get fresh air If the person has been exposed to poisonous fumes or gases, get them into fresh air.
  • Step 4: Protect eyes Protect eyes that have been splashed with a chemical by immediately flooding them with lukewarm water for at least 15 minutes.
  • TIP: Urge the victim to blink, but don't let them rub their eyes. Don't force their eyelids open when you are administering water.
  • Step 5: Remove clothes Remove clothes that have come in contact with poison and get the victim into a shower for at least 15 minutes to wash any chemicals off their body. Destroy the contaminated clothing so no one else is affected.
  • FACT: 92.7 percent of all poison exposures occur in the home, with most involving everyday products like medicine, cleaning supplies, cosmetics, and personal care items.

You Will Need

  • Familiarity with the signs of poisoning
  • The Poison Control Center hotline
  • Speedy attention to the victim

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