First Aid: Poisoning

What is it?

Poisoning can occur in many ways. Poisons, of course, can be swallowed. However, children can also be poisoned from inhaling fumes, getting splashed in the eye, or having the poison on the skin.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms depend upon the poison and manner in which the exposure occurred. Many poisonings happen without direct observation. Therefore, a parent must keep a suspicious eye out for possible ways their children can get into dangerous chemicals and medications. In addition, parents must be aware of symptoms that might suggest the child has been exposed to a toxic substance. These symptoms include:

  • Burns on the lips or in the mouth or excessive drooling
  • Unexplained stains on the clothing
  • Unexplained odors on the clothing
  • Excessive sleepiness and “not acting right”
  • Nausea or vomiting without other signs of illness, such as fever
  • Difficulty breathing

What can/should be done at home

  • The first and best step is prevention.
  • Keep the Poison Control Center number handy --(800) 222-1222.
  • If the substance was swallowed, have the container and label handy when you call Poison Control.
  • Do not induce vomiting unless instructed to do so by your pediatrician or Poison Control Center.
  • If a chemical or other caustic substance has spilled on the skin, remove the clothes and rinse the area for at least 15 minutes. Call Poison Control for further instructions.
  • If it has spilled into the eye, flush it with a steady stream of lukewarm water for 15 minutes and call Poison Control for further instructions.
  • Finally, learn CPR. The life you save may be your child’s.
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