MTM 016: 7 First Aid Skills: How to Handle Poisoning and Chemical Ingestion

HOW TO HANDLE POISONING. Let’s continue our series on Acquiring First Aid Skills. We have talked about How To Handle Bites and Stings. We also talked about How to Handle Cuts, Wounds and Bleeding. Today we will be looking at How to Handle Poisoning and Chemical Ingestion.


How to Handle Poisoning

Sorry for the long silence. I had technical challenges with the Podcasting procedures. But, it has been fixed.

Here, I will teach you what to do in case someone, mistakenly or deliberately, ingests, injects, or inhales a poisonous substance. You will learn what to do before taking the person to the hospital.

First, generally, any substance can be a poison, even water (as we see in water intoxication), if taken in large amounts or lethal doses. Most poisonous substances get into the body through the mouth (by swallowing), nose (by inhaling), or through the skin (by injecting or contact with the skin).


Substances that commonly involved in most house-hold poisoning include:

  • Kerosene, Engine oil, petrol…
  • Pesticides, insecticides, rat poison, otapiapia
  • Cosmetics – powder, nail-polish…
  • House-hold products — cleaners, detergent, soaps, bleach…
  • Corrosive acids (from automobile batteries)
  • Gas (carbon monoxide) from generators and kerosene stoves
  • Alcohol
  • Drugs — both legal and illegal drugs
  • Etc., etc.

[Download (above) and listen to get details]

Usually, children are the victims, because they are curious, adventurous, and ignorant. They want to taste, smell, and touch anything and everything! So, poisoning, most times, is accidental; however, there could be cases of deliberate ingestion, say, in cases of suicide or para-suicide. Deliberate self-poisoning is more in adults.

[tweetthis]So, poisoning, most times, is accidental; however, there could be cases of deliberate self-poisoning, say, in cases of suicide or para-suicide![/tweetthis]

The effects of poisoning occur in a wide range: from mild cases (where the individual is stable and have mild symptoms) to severe cases (of brain damage, coma and death). Symptoms of poisoning, sometimes, looks like convulsions, epileptic seizures, alcohol intoxication, or stroke.

Treatment of poisoning depends on the type of poison, the amount of poison, the age (and weight) of the person, how long since poisoning, and the symptoms the person is presenting with.


You have to, first, be very observant. Use your senses. Look. And listen.

  • Look. Check for burns or redness around the mouth and nose, or signs showing the person swallowed or drank something poisonous or corrosive. Look around. Is anything missing? Has the quantity of the liquid reduced? Is the tiny button battery missing?
  • Smell. Check the person’s breath for smell of the poison — say, kerosene, cough syrup, alcohol, paint
  • Observe. Watch out for change in behavior — drowsy, confused, restless, difficulty in breathing, vomiting, etc.
  • Listen. Ask questions while the person could still talk. Ask what was swallowed or drank. Ask how he or she feels. Any stomach pain?
  • Feel. Some types of poisoning cause high body temperature. Feel for fever with the back of your hand.


  • Swallowed? Remove the remaining substance from the mouth. Ask the person to spit it out. Rinse the mouth with water. Give copious amount of water and milk to the person to drink. Others give honey and palm oil; personally, I am not sure about those!
  • Skin? Remove all clothing and jewelry around the place. Flush the skin under running water, and wash thoroughly with soap and water. Take a bath.
  • Eye? Gently but properly flush the eye with water for 5 minutes or more!
  • Inhaled? Simply and quickly get the person where he or she could get fresh air!

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#1: If the person is awake and alert, give plenty of water or milk to drink

#2: Quickly check the container of the substances and read what to do. Some household products have instructions written on them in case of poisoning. Go to the hospital with the container; it will assist the doctor.

#3: Don’t give the person anything to make them vomit. Vomiting has been observe to, most times, cause more harm than good. Don’t put your finger in the person’s throat or give very salty water to make the person vomit.

#4: Never give any drug. Leave that to the health person or doctor.

#5: Call for help immediately. Poisoning is a medical emergency and very deadly and very little can be done at home. Rush to the hospital. We know what to do.


Never, never, NEVER put a poisonous substance in an inappropriate container! Why on Earth would a mother put kerosene in a soft drink bottle?! Why would you put a poisonous substance in a bottle water container?

Keep drugs and poisonous substances out of the reach of children.

Be wise, please


Download (above) and listen to get details on all we have said on how to handle poisoning and chemical ingestion…and more.

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