Many types of products can be poisonous to people.  When victims come into contact with poisonous products either by swallowing, breathing or contact with skin and eyes, serious sickness and even death can occur.  If you are unsure of a victim's exposure, call 911 immediately, before calling poison control

Caring for Poison Emergencies

The number for the American Association of Poison Control Centers (Poison Control) is 
  • 1-800-222-1222
  • Follow all workplace guidelines about poisonous items in your workplace
Caring for Poison Exposure Emergencies
  • Assess the scene – ensure it is safe BEFORE you approach
  • Call or direct bystander to call EMS
  • Provide name of poison, if possible
  • Apply PPE
  • If the scene appears unsafe 
    • Do NOT approach
    • Warn others to move away
  • Look for signs that warn you poisons are nearby
  • Check for spills or leaking containers
  • Avoid the area with poison if you see more than 1 victim
  • If you approach the scene
    • Apply PPE
    • Remove the poison off the victim as quickly and safely as you can
    • Use water to rinse the poisons off
    • Help the victim remove contaminated clothing and jewelry
    • Help the victim to a safety shower, or eyewash station if responsive and able to move
    • Brush off any dry power or solid substances from skin, using gloved hand
    • Rinse contaminated areas with water for at least 20 minutes or until EMS arrives and takes over
    • If victim has poisoning in the eye
      • Help wash face under flowing water with the poisoned eye on the bottom, or
      • Use eyewash station

Ingested Poisons

Known and Unknown Ingested Poisons
  • Signs and Symptoms
    • Abdominal pain
    • Nausea and/or vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Burns, stains, odor near or in mouth
    • Drowsiness and/or unresponsiveness
    • Poison containers nearby
  • Caring for Poison Victim
  • Assess scene for safety
  • Call or direct bystander to call EMS
  • Apply PPE
  • Determine 
    • the age and size of the victim
    • what and how much poison was ingested
    • when it was taken
  • Give activated charcoal, if advised
  • Save containers, plants and vomit, if unknown
  • If victim is responsive
    • Place victim in recovery position
    • Call poison control
    • Remain with victim until EMS arrives
  • If victim becomes unresponsive or has agonal breathing (irregular, shallow or gasping) or is not breathing at all – begin CPR
    • Continue CPR cycles until EMS arrives, a second rescuer takes over or you are too tired to continue
    • If you do not know CPR begin “Hands Only” compressions at a rate of 100-120 per minute
Alcohol Intoxication
  • Signs and Symptoms
    • Victim appears unsteady or staggers
    • Confused
    • Slurred speech
    • Nausea and/or vomiting
    • Sweaty
    • Flushed face
    • Strong odor of alcohol
    • Fainting 
  • Caring for Alcohol Intoxication
    • Assess the scene for safety
    • Call poison control: 800-222-1222
    • Call or direct bystander to call EMS if
      • Victim is violent or becomes unresponsive
    • Apply PPE
    • Place responsive breathing victim in recovery position
    • Monitor breathing
    • Remain with victim until he/she becomes alert or EMS arrives and takes over
  • If victim becomes unresponsive or has agonal breathing (irregular, shallow or gasping) or is not breathing at all – begin CPR
    • Continue CPR cycles until EMS arrives, a second rescuer takes over or you are too tired to continue
    • If you do not know CPR begin “Hands Only” compressions at a rate of 100-120 per minute
Drug Overdose
  • Signs and Symptoms
    • Victim appears drowsy, anxious, agitated or hyperactive
    • Change in pupil size
    • Confused and/or delirious
    • Hallucinations
  • Caring for Drug Overdose
    • Assess the scene for safety
    • Call poison control: 800-222-1222
    • Call or direct bystander to call EMS if
      • Victim is violent or becomes unresponsive
    • Apply PPE
    • Place responsive, breathing victim in recovery position
    • Monitor breathing
    • Remain with victim until he/she becomes alert or EMS arrives and takes over
  • If victim becomes unresponsive or has agonal breathing (irregular, shallow or gasping) or is not breathing at all – begin CPR
    • Continue CPR cycles until EMS arrives, a second rescuer takes over or you are too tired to continue
    • If you do not know CPR begin “Hands Only” compressions at a rate of 100-120 per minute

***Naloxone, if available, may be administered if suspected, life-threatening opioid overdose has occurred.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
  • Signs and Symptoms
    • Headache
    • Ringing in the ears
    • Chest pain/tightness in chest
    • Muscle weakness
    • Nausea and/or vomiting
    • Dizziness and changes in vision
    • Unresponsiveness
    • Breathing and heart stop
    • Symptoms may come and go
    • Symptoms can worsen and improve depending on the time and place
    • Nearby people have similar symptoms
    • Can be confused with flu – due to flu like symptoms
    • Pets become ill
  • Caring for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
    • Assess the scene for safety – do NOT enter if more than 1 victim is present
    • Call or direct a bystander to call EMS
    • Apply PPE
    • Remove the victim from environment immediately
    • Monitor breathing
    • Place responsive, breathing victim in recovery position and wait for EMS to arrive
  • If victim becomes unresponsive or has agonal breathing (irregular, shallow or gasping) or is not breathing at all – begin CPR
    • Continue CPR cycles until EMS arrives, a second rescuer takes over or you are too tired to continue
    • If you do not know CPR begin “Hands Only” compressions at a rate of 100-120 per minute
Plant Poisoning
  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Plants such as poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac and others cause victims to react to their poisonous effects with one or all of the following symptoms  
    • Rash
    • Itching
    • Redness
    • Blisters
    • Swelling
  • Caring for Plant Poisoning
    • Assess the scene for safety
    • Apply PPE
    • Clean skin with soap and cold water as soon as possible
    • Give victim lukewarm bath with colloidal oatmeal
    • Apply calamine lotion and baking soda paste
    • Apply corticosteroid ointment to relieve symptoms
    • Administer oral corticosteroid to relieve symptoms
    • Contact poison control: 800-222-1222
    • Seek medical attention if symptoms do not improve or worsen
    • Call or direct bystander to call EMS if victim shows signs of allergic reaction – see allergic reaction section
    • Monitor breathing
    • Place responsive, breathing victim in recovery position and wait for EMS to arrive
  • If victim becomes unresponsive or has agonal breathing (irregular, shallow or gasping) or is not breathing at all – begin CPR
    • Continue CPR cycles until EMS arrives, a second rescuer takes over or you are too tired to continue
    • If you do not know CPR begin “Hands Only” compressions at a rate of 100-120 per minute