Poison Control

What to Do if Poisoned

Call the Poison Center immediately 1-800-222-1222. Do not wait for symptoms to appear. If the person is unconscious or in immediate distress call 911

Poison First Aid

Poison in the Eye 

Remove all foreign materials from the eyes including contact lenses if worn. Gently flush eye for 10 minutes, timed by the clock, using slightly warm water. Pour a stream of water from a clean glass held about 3 inches above the eye. Do not use any eye drops until advised to do so by the poison center. Call the poison center.

For adults, getting in the shower works best. Aim a gentle stream of lukewarm water on the forehead above the affected eye. If both eyes are affected, aim the stream at the bridge of the nose. Eyes do not have to be held open. Opening and closing the eyes repeatedly during the irrigation will help carry the water to all the surfaces of the eye.

For young children, using large glass or a pitcher works best. Wrapped in a large towel, lie the child down in the bathtub or with head supported over sink. Pour a gentle stream of water at the bridge of the nose or on the forehead above the affected eye. Do not pour water directly onto the surface of the eyeball. Eyes do not need to be held open unless the child refuses to open them at all.

Poison on the Skin 

Remove any contaminated clothing. Rinse the affected area thoroughly with large amounts of water. Wash the same area gently with hand soap and warm water to remove all remaining chemicals on the skin. If exposed, remember to wash hair and under fingernails. Call the poison center.

Inhaled Poison

Get to fresh air as soon as possible. Avoid breathing fumes. Ventilate that area as soon as possible by opening windows or directing fans toward the door, while protecting yourself from injury. Call the poison center. If the person is unconscious, having difficulty breathing or not breathing, call 911.

Swallowed Poison

Remove anything remaining in the mouth. Unless victim is unconscious, having a seizure, or cannot swallow, give about 2 ounces of water to drink. Call the poison center.

Do not try to neutralize a poison by giving raw eggs, salt water, mustard, vinegar or citrus fruit juices as an antidote or to cause vomiting. Never attempt to induce vomiting by sticking your fingers anywhere in the patient's mouth; this procedure can be very dangerous.

Syrup of Ipecac

Syrup of ipecac should NOT be administered routinely in the management of poisoned patients. There is no evidence from clinical studies that syrup of ipecac improves the outcome of poisoned patients. If used inappropriately, ipecac can cause significant complications or even death. Syrup of ipecac should ONLY be used at the direction of a Poison Control Center.

Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is not recommended for home use. It is used to bind drugs and chemicals before they are absorbed into a person, but activated charcoal does not bind all drugs or chemicals and has some risk when given. Important: Only use it when told to do so by the Poison Center.

Do NOT Panic!

If you have a poisoning situation, do not panic. Panic is a very contagious emotion. If parents are upset, crying and screaming, a child can pick up on that very easily and will also start crying and become upset. When the entire family is upset, it becomes much harder to assess the situation and provide good care.

If you are the one with the poison problem, being scared and anxious will produce symptoms that many people mistake for symptoms of poisoning. Being very frightened can cause a dry mouth, dilated pupils, increased heart rate, fast breathing, nausea, vomiting, sometimes diarrhea, headache, dizziness and a feeling of being light-headed.

Most encounters with a toxic substance are not going to cause immediate symptoms. If you are very anxious and have symptoms immediately after an exposure, a majority of the times the symptoms are due to fear. But always call the Poison Center to make sure. Poison Center staff can reassure you if you are scared and can give you directions to help take care of your problem.


Poison Help 1-800-222-1222 (Voice/TTY) 24 hours a day • 7 days a week • free of charge