First Aid: How To Treat Poisoning

5 min read
First Aid: How To Treat Poisoning

We try very hard as parents to keep dangerous things away from our children, but it doesn’t always work out.

Curiosity, as well as the love of putting things in their mouths, mean kids sometimes ingest things that are really bad for them.

This type of poisoning is known as accidental poisoning, making it different from the intentional poisoning or overdose that we might see in adults. It’s very common in young children, and can involve anything from cleaning products to medication. Kids aren’t old enough to know the difference between what is safe and what is not, here’s what you should know on how to treat poisoning.

What Can Be Poisonous?

The majority of poisoning in children happens at home, and usually involves something that is in sight waiting to be used while not being watched by an adult. In some cases, kids might have climbed up to get something that looked interesting, or crawled into cupboards.

You might be surprised how many household items can be poisonous if their use isn’t supervised. These include:

First Aid: How To Treat Poisoning | Stay At Home Mum
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1. Medications

Things like paracetamol, cold and flu medicine, cough syrup, mouthwash, antiseptics, antibiotics, antidepressants, sedatives and more.First Aid: How To Treat Poisoning | Stay At Home Mum

2. Cleaning Products

Items such as detergents, cleaning spray, bleach, washing powered, deodorants, drain cleaners and more.

First Aid: How To Treat Poisoning | Stay At Home Mum
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3. Cosmetics

Products like ointments, creams, shampoos, perfumes and aftershaves.

First Aid: How To Treat Poisoning | Stay At Home Mum
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4. Plants

Natural plants, including native mushrooms and berries.

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5. Other Items

Things like alcohol, essential oils, car products, pesticides, fuels, batteries, gardening products and cigarettes (when eaten).


Signs of Poisoning

The signs of poisoning will depend quite a bit on the type of poison that has been ingested, inhaled or absorbed into the body. However, it’s good to know what to look for, especially if the child was unattended when the incident occurred. Symptoms of poisoning will include:

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Burning pain from mouth to stomach
  • Tightness in chest
  • Unusual smells on the breath
  • Blurred vision
  • Change in skin colour, particularly blue tinge around lips
  • Collapse

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Treatment For Poisoning When Unconscious

If you find an individual who has ingested a poison and is not unconscious, you need to move quickly.

Follow the DRSABCD protocol, making sure they’re in no Danger, attempting to get a Response from them, Sending for help, checking their Airways, and Breathing before commencing CPR and Defibrillation if there is no breathing apparent.

After that, all you can do is stay with them while help arrives, making sure you do not leave them alone.

Treatment For Poisoning When Conscious

When the person who has ingested the poison is conscious, there are other things you can do.


You still need to follow the DRSABCD protocol, but if they’re conscious, you won’t need to worry about CPR. However, you should keep a careful eye on the patient’s breathing, particularly as they are in distress. Make sure you put them on their side in the recovery position to prevent aspiration if they start vomiting.

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2. Listen And Watch

Listen to the patient and try to ascertain what it was that they ingested prior to feeling sick. For children, this might be very difficult to get out of them in communication, but if you’re able to see the potential poison, you need to collect the container for doctors to look over.

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3. Poisons Information Centre

Call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 and talk to them about what you should do next. Call them even if you aren’t sure what the poison was. If you are sure, they will be able to provide you with more information. Make sure you do not induce vomiting unless they recommend that you do so. Also make sure you do not give anything via the mouth. However, you are able to wash substances off the mouth or face with water.Stay At Home Mum

4. Medical Intervention

As you have already called for help, or have started to make your way to the Emergency Department, make sure that you take any poison containers and even vomit with you to the hospital. If you aren’t sure of the poison, any vomit that the patient produces may be invaluable in figuring out what they ingested.

First Aid: How To Treat Poisoning | Stay at Home Mum

For More Information: All First Aid information* in this article was sourced from the St. John Ambulance Australia website. You can read more about First Aid treatments and courses here. Remember that in an emergency, always dial Triple Zero (000) for assistance.

If you become concerned about any symptoms, please seek immediate medical attention we have some hotlines and suggested websites for further information and advice https://www.stayathomemum.com.au/my-kids/babies/important-hotlines-websites/

SAHM takes no responsibility for any illness, injury or death caused by misuse of this information. All information provided is correct at time of publication.

About Author

Oceana Setaysha

Senior Writer A passionate writer since her early school days, Oceana has graduated from writing nonsense stories to crafting engaging content for...Read Morean online audience. She enjoys the flexibility to write about topics from lifestyle, to travel, to family. Although not currently fulfilling the job of parent, her eight nieces and nephews keep her, and her reluctant partner, practiced and on their toes. Oceana holds a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Writing and Indonesian, and has used her interest in languages to create a career online. She's also the resident blonde at BarefootBeachBlonde.com, where she shares her, slightly dented, wisdom on photography, relationships, travel, and the quirks of a creative lifestyle. Read Less

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