Sunday, August 07, 2005

Accidental Poisoning: What to do for the victim

Using Water When There’s an Accidental Poisoning

Poisons should be taken seriously. Many of us have lots of them around the house in the form of cleaning solutions and other household items. And -- when taken by the wrong person, in the wrong form, or in the wrong dosage -- prescription and over-the-counter medicines can be poisonous as well.

Quick action is essential. If someone has taken an overdose of a drug or medication, vomiting should be induced. The best way to do that is to tickle the back of the throat with a finger. Or give them a glass of warm water in which you’ve dissolved some salt, soap (a squirt of dish detergent will do the trick in most cases) or mustard. There are also medicines that are designed to make someone vomit. If you have those on hand, use them.

But if the person has swallowed a petroleum product (such as oil or gasoline) or a strong acid or alkaline product, do not induce vomiting. Instead, give them a glass of water or milk to dilute the poison. Continue giving them something to drink, but if they become nauseated, stop giving it to them.

In all cases of swallowing poison, call your local poison control center, which can give you advice about what -- if anything -- to do next. In many cases, home treatments will take care of the problem. But if you have any doubt in your mind, or if the individual is acting unusual, or lethargic, or having trouble breathing, get them to an emergency facility as quickly as possible.


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