|Many everyday household substances are potentially poisonous if misused. Unfortunately, many hospital admissions are the result of children drinking household chemicals while playing. Inside the home, cleaning materials are often the biggest risk, while in the garden herbicides, pesticides, and paint stripper are common culprits. Most household chemicals cause problems when they are swallowed. Many are corrosive and together with the effect of the poison may also cause burns to the mouth and food canal (digestive tract).
MANAGING SWALLOWED POISON
Make sure that it is safe for you to approach. Do not inadvertently kneel in chemicals or otherwise expose yourself to any risk.
- Monitor and maintain the airway and breathing. Be prepared to resuscitate if necessary.
- Monitor consciousness. If the person becomes unconscious, put into the recovery position.
- Call 911 or the Poison Control Hotline for advice on how to proceed.
- Treat any burns, wearing protective clothing if necessary.
- Support the person if he vomits and place in the recovery position if necessary.
- Reassure the person while you are waiting for emergency assistance to arrive.
- Identify the poison if possible because this will help medical staff determine what treatment is appropriate.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
- Signs of bottles, information from the victim, or from bystanders
- Burns to the mouth
- Impaired consciousness
- Difficulty breathing
Do not try to make the person vomit. If a poison burns on the way down to the stomach, it will burn on the way up.
IF THERE ARE MOUTH BURNS
If the person stops breathing you will need to provide rescue breathing. However, if there are mouth burns because the poison was corrosive, you must take care not to put yourself at risk. Use a face shield or mask while rescue breathing. This should be placed over the victim’s face and the oval tube placed between teeth. The plastic shield forms a barrier as you give mouth-to-mouth.
If there is no shield available, consider providing rescue breathing mouth-to-nose. Tilt the head and lift the chin as you would normally. Then close the mouth (using a piece of material as a barrier against the poison if appropriate) and seal your mouth around the victim’s nose. Provide rescue breathing at the same rate and ratio as you would when giving mouth-to-mouth. Take your mouth away after each breath and open the victim’s mouth between breaths to let the air out.
If the victim is breathing and conscious, you may provide relief from the burning by giving frequent sips of cold water. This will help relieve the pain and reduce swelling.
You will need to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if a s person stops breathing but if there are burns to the mouth you must use a face shield or mask to protect yourself.
Place the face shield or mask over the victim’s face and place the oval tube between the teeth. The shield forms a barrier as you provide rescue breathing.
PREVENTION OF POISONING FROM HOUSEHOLD SUBSTANCES
Where possible, buy medicines and cleaning materials in childproof containers.
- Put all household cleaning materials and medicines up high out of the reach of children
- Consider putting any dangerous substances in a locked cupboard
- Always read instructions for use carefully. Some household chemicals should be used only in well-ventilated room or with some protective clothing
- Always store chemicals in the container they came in or a clearly marked alternative. Never store chemicals in drinks containers or unmarked bottles
- Keep gardening supplies securely in the shed or garage in a locked container