What to do if someone is poisoned

July 27, 2015

When you're armed with the right information about poison, you can act calmly when faced with an emergency. Here are the most basic tips for what to do if someone encounters a poisonous substance or material.

What to do if someone is poisoned

The 3 things you need to have

Readiness for an accidental poisoning comes down to three basic steps:

  1. Act quickly and calmly.
  2. Locate and post the phone number of the local Poison Control Centre on or by your phone or in a central location (like a family memo area, for instance).
  3. Keep a supply of ipecac on hand. More on ipecac below.

Ipecac Basics

  • Ipecac is a safe and effective over-the-counter drug that comes in a concentrated syrup form.
  • It induces vomiting, which can force ingested poisons out of the body before they hit the blood stream.
  • Be aware that there are certain instances where vomiting can actually worsen the problem. This includes, but is not limited to, the ingestion of petroleum products, insect repellents, and many cleaning fluids.

Stay informed

When you contact the Poison Control Centre, a poison control expert will likely ask you to try and identify the particular poison involved. Tell them the exact substance if you know and admit if you don't. The Poison Control Centre representative will then make certain treatment recommendations.

By being prepared to handle these special types of emergencies, you ensure not only your family's safety, but the safety of friends and family who visit your home. Stay informed, have the phone number ready and don't hesitate to call emergency services. It could save a life.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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