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First aid: How to deal with poisoning

Poisons can be swallowed, inhaled, injected or absorbed through the skin. If you know or suspect someone has taken or been exposed to poison, follow these steps:

1. Ask what, when and how. Find out what they have taken, when they took it, and how much they have taken.

2. Call 999 or get someone to do it. Depending on the type of poison involved, the person might need immediate medical attention. Give the medical or ambulance service the what, when and how information you have gathered.

3. While waiting for help to arrive, continue to check their breathing and make sure the airway is kept clear. If the person loses consciousness, place them in the recovery position. If they stop breathing, give them CPR.

Do not make the person try to vomit as this could damage their throat and block the airway. If they vomit naturally, collect some of the vomit in a bag and give it to the response team. This can help them identify the exact type of poison and treat it more effectively.

If you aren’t sure if the person has taken poison, look out for these signs:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • A burning sensation
  • Drowsiness or loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
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