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Poisoning

1-800-222-1222 (Poison Control Line)

Poisoning can occur with almost any substance, even with medications prescribed by a healthcare provider. In fact, intentional and unintentional overdoses of medicines are much more common than poisonings by other substances. You should know the number of your regional poison control center or the United States National Poison Center at 800-222-1222 and call them before providing first aid to anyone suspected of having any kind of poisoning. When you call, have some general information about the victim readily available. In addition, if you know the medicine, product or plant the victim ingested, this will be invaluable to the expert on the phone. Be aware that the symptoms of poisoning can be the same as many other diseases and conditions; however, there are certain signs to look for if you suspect poisoning. If you notice any of these, call for medical assistance BEFORE calling poison control:
  • Altered level of consciousness (may be sleepy or hyperactive)
  • Altered respiratory pattern (breathing very slowly or too quickly)
  • Slurred speech
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Chemical smell on the victim’s breath
  • Burns on or around the lips or in the mouth
  • Seizures
  • Empty pill bottles in the area
  • Spilled chemical bottles
While you are waiting for medical assistance, be sure you and the victim are both safe. Move to fresh air if you suspect the victim has been breathing lethal fumes, as in carbon monoxide poisoning. Look into the victim’s mouth and, with a gloved hand, remove anything you can easily reach. If the poison spilled on the victim, remove any contaminated clothing and begin to flush the area with water until help arrives, but only if you have proper protective wear, such as gloves. Do NOT make the victim vomit unless advised to do so. Monitor the victim and start CPR if that becomes necessary. If you reach the poison control center, follow any instructions given by them. If the victim is taken to hospital, take or send any pills, bottles or plants.
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