Whether it’s at home, outside or in an industrial setting, there are various ways in which one can be exposed to poisonous substances. Poisoning can occur due to swallowing a harmful product or chemical, exposure to toxic fumes or contact with the skin. Overdose of some medicines can also lead to poisoning. While it’s imperative that you seek medical help as soon as possible, there are some things that you can do to help the victim and improve their chances of survival. Here’s what to do if poisoned.
Conscious state – If the individual is conscious, ask them to stay still as far as possible. Bodily movements can accelerate the spread of poison in the body. Check to see if they have something in their mouth. If yes, ask them to spit it out. Check to see if there is any exposure on the skin or clothes. Remove the contaminated items and wash with cool or lukewarm water.
Unconscious state – In case the individual is unconscious, make them lie on their side. Place a cushion at the back and place the upper leg slightly forward. This will ensure that they do not end up with their face down to roll backwards. If the individual has vomited, wipe it off with a tissue or clean cloth. The head can be positioned slightly facing down, which will allow any further vomit to escape. In case the person is not breathing or if their heart has stopped, you can give CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) if you have received training for that.
Exposure to toxic fumes – The first step would be to take the person out of the contaminated space. Take them to a place with fresh air. You should attempt this when you are sure that you yourself won’t get exposed to the toxic fumes. If you have doubts, you should wait for emergency assistance.
Help paramedics – You can increase the chances of survival by providing detailed information about what could have happened. For example, you can share details about what substance may be involved, what amount was taken, how long has been the exposure, etc. You can also provide information about the individual such as their age, weight, medical conditions and medicines they are taking. Such information can be critical in saving the individual’s life.
At the hospital, the victim will be administered treatment based on symptoms and tests. For example, they could be given activated charcoal that reduces the spread of poison in the blood. For specific chemicals, there are specialized antidotes available. If the individual is facing difficulty breathing, they could be put on a ventilator. Sedatives and anti-epileptic medicines may be given to calm the individual.