Understanding Poisoning: First Aid Dos and Don'ts

Poisoning can happen accidentally in various settings, and knowing how to respond is crucial for providing immediate assistance. While waiting for professional medical help, the right first aid measures can make a significant difference. In this guide, we'll explore what to do and what not to do when faced with a potential poisoning situation.


  1. Call for Help: The first and most critical step in any poisoning situation is to call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Professional medical assistance is essential.
  2. Protect Yourself: Ensure your safety before helping the poisoned person. If the poison is in the air, evacuate the area to prevent exposure to toxic fumes. If the poison is on the person's skin or clothing, wear gloves or use a barrier such as a cloth to avoid direct contact.
  3. Identify the Poison: If it's safe to do so, try to identify the poison or gather information about what the person ingested, inhaled, or came into contact with. This information can be valuable for healthcare providers.
  4. Provide Comfort: If the person is conscious and not having severe symptoms, keep them calm and reassure them. Encourage them to sit or lie down.
  5. Rinse Eyes and Skin: If the poison has come into contact with the person's eyes or skin, rinse the affected area gently with lukewarm water for at least 15 minutes. Remove any contaminated clothing while rinsing.
  6. Administer CPR (if necessary): If the person becomes unconscious and you are trained in CPR, perform it according to current guidelines.


  1. Do Not Try to Induce Vomiting: In most cases, it is not recommended to induce vomiting as a first aid measure. This can be dangerous, especially if the poison is corrosive or caustic. Vomiting can further harm the person's throat and mouth.
  2. Do Not Give Anything to Drink: Avoid giving the person food or liquids, including milk, charcoal, or any home remedies, unless directed to do so by medical professionals. In some cases, ingesting certain substances can worsen the situation.
  3. Do Not Delay Medical Help: Time is of the essence in poisoning cases. Do not wait to see if symptoms get better on their own. Even if the person initially appears fine, some poisons can have delayed or long-term effects.
  4. Do Not Assume It's Harmless: Some substances, even household items, can be extremely toxic. Do not assume that a small amount or a common household product is harmless.
  5. Do Not Ignore Symptoms: Poisoning symptoms can vary widely, from mild to severe. Common signs include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, confusion, difficulty breathing, and seizures. Take all symptoms seriously, and convey them to medical professionals when seeking help.
  6. Do Not Rely Solely on Online Information: While this guide provides general information, it's crucial to consult with healthcare professionals for specific advice in poisoning cases. Online information cannot replace professional medical assessment and treatment.

Remember that your primary role in a poisoning emergency is to call for professional help and take immediate protective measures for both yourself and the poisoned person. Always prioritize safety and seek medical attention promptly to ensure the best possible outcome in poisoning situations.

 CPR + First Aid Certification

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