First Aid for Poisoning

Most poisonings are preventable, and every effort should be made to poison-proof your home. However, if someone in your home is exposed to a poison, the following information is intended to help you do the right thing as quickly as possible.

  • Keep calm.
  • Act quickly. Action is the most important factor in first aid if you suspect poisoning.

Before You Call for Help

Poisonous Fumes or Gases

Immediately carry or drag the person to fresh air. Minimize your exposure to the fumes. If the victim is not breathing, start artificial respiration immediately and continue it until the victim is breathing or help arrives. Send someone for help as quickly as possible.

Poisons on the Skin

Brush off all dry poisons and flood involved parts with large amounts of plain water. Then wash the skin with bar soap and water and rinse. Remove and discard all affected clothing.

Poisons in the Eye

Pour water from a glass on to the bridge of the patient’s eye and allow water to flood the eye gently for 15 minutes. Use plain lukewarm water. Do not allow the victim to rub his eyes.

Swallowed Poisons/Medications

Look into the victim’s mouth and remove all tablets, powder or any material that is present. Examine the mouth for cuts, burns, swelling, unusual coloring or odor. Rinse and wipe out the mouth with a cloth.

Calling for Help

Call the Oklahoma Poison Control Center or your doctor. When calling the Poison Control Center:

  • Identify yourself and give your relationship to the patient.
  • Give your phone number in case your call is disconnected. Describe the patient by name, age and weight.
  • If possible, have the container or poison in your hand and identify as best you can:
  • What was taken?
  • When was it taken?
  • How much was taken?
  • How is the patient acting?
  • Be prepared to answer any questions asked.

Follow the advice given by the Poison Control Center or doctor.

How to Produce Vomiting

The most important item to have in your home when poisoning occurs is ipecac syrup. Ipecac is a plant extract that when swallowed causes vomiting. Vomiting will remove the poison from the stomach. Your doctor or Poison Control Center may not always recommend using ipecac syrup. Do not use ipecac syrup without the advice of a doctor or the Poison Control Center.

Remember: Never produce vomiting unless instructed to do so! This is especially important if the patient has swallowed petroleum products such as gasoline, cleaning fluids and lighter fluids.

Never produce vomiting if the patient:

  • Is drowsy or unconscious
  • Is having convulsions (fits)
  • Has swallowed a strong corrosive such as Drano, Liquid Plumber or acids; if this occurs, give liquids only

Ipecac Syrup

If you are instructed to use ipecac syrup to produce vomiting:

  • Give one tablespoonful (15cc) to young children 1 to 12 years of age, and two tablespoonfuls (30cc) to older children and adults. Always consult with your doctor or the Poison Control Center before giving Ipecac syrup to a child under the age of 1.
  • Follow the dose with a 4-to-8 ounce glass of water or juice. Encourage the patient to drink more fluids, if possible.
  • Do not allow the patient to lie down. Keep him active.
  • If the patient hasn’t vomited within 15 to 20 minutes, give a second dose and another glass of liquid.

If you come to the hospital, bring the poison and the container with you. Bring any stomach contents you collect from vomiting.


Antidotes recommended on many product labels may be outdated or incorrect. In addition, salt water, mustard and water and many other home remedies are ineffective and may be dangerous. Don’t use them.


  • Visit your local pharmacy and get ipecac syrup for your home today.
  • Call a doctor or the Poison Control Center before you produce vomiting. When instructed to do so, give the ipecac syrup as directed. It may save your child’s life.

The Poison Control Center located in Children’s Hospital of Oklahoma is staffed by pharmacists who provide 24-hour emergency medical information on toxicology to the public and health-care professionals. It also sponsors poison education materials and lectures.

Oklahoma Poison Center
OU College of Pharmacy
Children’s Hospital of Oklahoma 940 N.E. 13th
Oklahoma City, OK 73104 405-271-5454 or
1-800-POISON-1 (1-800-764-7661)

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