Online First Aid Class | Posion and Overdose Emergencies
Poison is any substance that causes sickness or death if it is swallowed, breathed in, or gets into the skin or eyes. Many products are poisonous to people.
Poison Control Hotline
In the event of a poison emergency, contact the local poison center by calling the American Association of Poison Control Centers (Poison Control) at: 1-800-222-1222
Some places where chemicals are used may have a Safety Data Sheet or SDS on display. The SDS provides information on how certain chemicals can be harmful, and may also have first aid instructions.
When you call poison control, the dispatcher will ask you for additional information. Be ready to answer the following questions:
- ● What is the name of the poison?
- ● If you can’t name the poison, can you describe it?
- ● How much poison did the person swallow, breathe in, or touch?
- ● How old is the poison?
- ● How much does the person who was poisoned weigh?
- ● When was the person poisoned?
- ● How is the person feeling or acting now?
Scene safety in a Poison Emergency
If a person has been exposed to poison, make sure the scene is safe. Look out for spills, liquids or powders that might be poison. Before you can give first aid, follow these steps:
- ● Make sure the scene is safe for both you and the poisoned person before you approach them to give first aid
- ● Look for warning signs of poison
- ● Look out for spilled or leaking containers
- ● If there are multiple people who may have been poisoned, stay out of the scene
- ● Get the first aid kit
- ● Call 9-1-1
If the scene does not look safe
- ● Do not approach the ill or injured person
- ● Tell everyone to move away
Tell the 9-1-1 or poison control dispatcher the name of the poison if you know it. In some cases, 9-1-1 dispatchers may connect you to a poison control center. Only give the person the antidotes that the dispatcher or poison control tells you to use. The first aid instructions on the poison itself may or may not be useful.
Helping someone with poison on the skin or eyes
- ● Make sure the scene is safe by following the “Scene Safety” steps in the previous section
- ● Wear PPE when approaching the scene
- ● If possible, remove the person from the scene of the poison, preferably to an area with fresh air
- ● Quickly, but safely wash the poison from the person’s skin and clothing
- ● Help the person to a source of running water, like a faucet, eyewash station or safety shower
- ● Remove clothing and jewelry from areas that made contact with the poison. Use gloved hands to remove powders or other solid substances from the skin
- ● Run water over the area until someone with more advanced training can arrive and take over
- ● Ask them to blink rapidly while rinsing the eyes. If just one eye was affected, make sure the affected eye is lower than the unaffected eye, so poison does not run from one eye into the other
An overdose is very similar to poisoning. Many overdose victims take additional or incorrect medication by mistake. If there are no symptoms and you are not sure the dose taken is harmful, you can contact the Poison Control Hotline. If the victim is feeling lightheaded, sleepy, disoriented or is showing any other symptoms that couold be related to the drug, call 911 and activate EMS.
In the event that the person becomes unresponsive or stops breathing normally, begin CPR. Use a mask for providing breaths in case person’s lips or mouth have been contaminated.
Instructor: Mike Figuero
Publish Date: 2018-04-02
Last Updated: 2020-07-18