First Aid for Poisons What to do Before you Seek Help!

There are two ways to get help for a poisoning emergency. You can either:

  1. Use the  tool to get specific guidance for your case, based on your age, substance, and amount, or

Call 911 right away if the individual collapses, has a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened.

But before you contact Poison Control, whether by phone or online, there are some quick first aid measures that make a difference if accomplished within seconds to minutes of the poison exposure. Be familiar with these steps.

SWALLOWED Poisons

Drink a small amount of water or milk immediately, before getting Poison Control assistance, if:

  • The product swallowed is burning, irritating or caustic, AND
  • The person is conscious, not having convulsions, and able to swallow. 

If in the EYE, on the SKIN, or INHALED:

in the EYE on the SKIN INHALED
It's important that you irrigate (rinse the exposed eyes) immediately. Every second matters and a delay could result in loss of sight. Remove contact lenses. Use lots of room temperature water and irrigate for at least 15 to 20 minutes.

Adults and older children may find it easier to hop in the shower. Wrap young children in a towel and let water from the faucet in the kitchen sink run over the eye - or slowly pour water from a pitcher. Let the water hit the bridge of the nose and gently run into the eyes rather than pouring the water directly into the eye. Important: Irrigate for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Encourage blinking.

After the 15 to 20 minute irrigation, let the eye rest while you call Poison Control for additional guidance. If irritation, pain, visual problems, redness, swelling, or tearing persist an hour after irrigation is started, you'll need an urgent ophthalmic exam. That means a trip to an urgicenter or emergency room right away, unless an eye doctor can see you immediately. If the symptoms are severe, don't wait an hour - go straight to an emergency room after irrigating.

After irrigating, use webPOISONCONTROL to get specific recommendations online, or call 1-800-222-1222 for guidance.
It's important that you rinse the exposed skin immediately. Remove contaminated clothing first (that's clothing with a spill). Every second matters. Don't delay. Use lots of room temperature running water and rinse for at least 15 minutes. For large spills, adults and older children may find it easiest to hop in the shower. Mild hand soap can be used to remove material that sticks to the skin. Important: Rinse for at least 15 minutes.

After the 15 minute rinse, call Poison Control for additional guidance. If blistering, large or deep burns, pain, redness, or swelling worsen or persist, you will need to see a doctor right away. But first call the poison specialists at Poison Control to see whether a trip to an urgicenter or emergency room is urgent or necessary. If the symptoms are severe, go straight to an emergency room after rinsing. Don't wait.

After irrigating, use webPOISONCONTROL to get specific recommendations online, or call 1-800-222-1222 for guidance.


It's important that you move to fresh air immediately. Stay away from all toxic fumes and gases. Thoroughly ventilate the involved area.

After moving to fresh air, use webPOISONCONTROL to get specific recommendations online, or call 1-800-222-1222 for guidance.


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