A poison is any solid, liquid, or gaseous substance that tends to impair health or cause death when introduced into the body or onto the skin surface. A. Ways in Which Poisoning May Occur: • • • • Ingestion Inhalation Injection Absorption
B. Some Preventive Measures Against Poisoning: • • • • • • • Be cautious in taking any medication. Keep all drugs and harmful chemicals locked up, away from the reach of children. Promptly dispose of incomplete prescription drugs and expired medicines. Signs of expired medicines include soft, cracked pills, and pills purchased for over a year. Immediately transfer liquid contents from tin cans after opening. Do not consume food which has foul odor or unusual color, and food that came from rusty or dented containers. Refrigerate foods which contain cream, milk, mayonnaise, and other mixtures that easily change flavor when left exposed to the air. Educate older children regarding the dangers of poisoning and drugs.
C. Common Signs and Symptoms of Poisoning: • • • • • • Dizziness, weakness, and vision disturbances which may be caused by the smell of poison. Burns or redness around the nose and mouth caused by drinking certain poisons. Skin rash, or chemical burns on the skin. Unusual breath odor or breath that smells like chemicals. Unexpected signs such as abdominal pain, vomiting, fever, chills, heart palpitations, and difficulty in breathing. In severe cases, victims may have seizures and become unconscious.
D. General First Aid for Poisoning: 1. Check the victim’s ABCs. a. If necessary, begin rescue breathing, CPR, or bleeding control. b. If the ABCs are present but the victim is unconscious, place him/her in the recovery position. Continue to monitor his/her ABCs. c. If the ABCs are present and the victim is conscious, have him/her assume the recovery position. Continue monitoring ABCs. 2. If the victim is having breathing problems, keep his/her airway open. Do not let the victim lie down. A conscious victim will naturally go into a position in which he/she finds it easiest to breathe. 3. If the victim starts to have seizures, protect him/her from injury and give first aid for seizures. 4. If the victim vomits, protect the airway. If you must clear the victim’s airway, wrap a cloth around your fingers before cleaning out his/her mouth and throat. 5. Care for shock. 6. Calm and reassure the victim, because anxiety aggravates all reactions. 7. Keep him/her comfortable while you wait for medical help. Get medical assistance, even if the victim seems completely recovered.
E. Types of Poisoning and their Corresponding First Aid:
The most common form of ingestion poisoning is food poisoning. Food poisoning can affect one person or it can occur as an outbreak in a group of people who all ate the same contaminated food. Food poisoning commonly occurs during picnics, school cafeterias, and large social functions, where food is left exposed for a time and proper food handling techniques may not have been followed. Signs and symptoms include: a. Headache b. Dizziness c. Slurred speech d. Difficulty swallowing e. Difficulty breathing Suspect food poisoning if: 1) The victim ate food that he/she says did not taste right. 2) The food may have been old, improperly prepared, or contaminated. GENERAL REMINDERS 1. Try to identify the poison. 2. Call your local poison control center (PCC) or nearest physician for advice. All government hospitals are considered poison control centers. 3. Be prepared to give the following information: a) Type of poison. b) Time when the poisoning occurred. c) The victim’s age. d) The victim’s symptoms. e) Whether or not the victim has had anything to eat or drink since the poisoning occurred. f) How long it will take for you to get to the nearest emergency facility. 4. Do not wait for the signs and symptoms to develop if you suspect that poisoning has occurred. 5. Do not use any “universal antidote”. 6. Do not try to...