In South Africa, several hundred people die from accidental poisoning each year, making it a more common cause of death than people may believe. Unfortunately, most of these deaths involve children who have accidentally ingested substances that they mistook for food or water.
Of course, preventative measures are highly advised when you have young children in the home. Labelling poison, putting it in a sealed container and storing poison out of reach of children are important guidelines to follow. Also, make sure to store toxic liquids in bottles that children do not readily recognise as cool drink containers and that have tamper proof lids or caps.
Symptoms and signs of swallowed poisons may include: Nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting, difficulty in breathing, coughing blood; the person could turn blue, be lethargic and could suffer from convulsions. There could be burn marks in or around the mouth, says Health24.
What to do if poison is ingested
Unfortunately, sometimes no matter how many precautions are taken, accidents still happen.
The most important step is to call the emergency services and being explicit that it is a poison control issue. The more information you divulge, the better for the operator to send the proper experts to assist you.
iER has a network of medical and emergency professionals from all fields and can deploy the proper emergency personnel to the scene.
Perform CPR if the person is unconscious and not breathing.
Wash the area around the person’s mouth in case poisonous material has collected in this area. However, it is important to keep a sample of whatever the person has ingested. If the emergency personnel know which poison was ingested, they can find the proper solution or antidote fast. If the suspected poison is a household cleaner or other chemical, check the container’s label and follow instructions for accidental poisoning.
If the poison was inhaled, get the person into fresh air as soon as possible. If the person vomits, turn his or her head to the side to prevent choking.
Mayo Clinic says: Begin CPR if the person shows no signs of life, such as moving, breathing or coughing. Remove any contaminated clothing using gloves. Rinse the skin for 15 to 20 minutes in a shower or with a hose if the poison was spilled on the skin.