Whether it’s a child that has swallowed some poisonous household liquid or a teen that has taken too many pills, it’s important to know exactly what to do in case of an accidental overdose. Every household should post emergency numbers on or by the phone for just such an accident.
Upon discovering that someone has been accidentally poisoned the first order of business is to call for emergency medical help. Upon reaching someone you will likely be asked if the person is still breathing and some other pertinent questions.
Some things you may need to tell medical personnel is what drug or poison was taken, and how much, if you know that information, the status of the victim, that is, whether he is conscious, vomiting, convulsing, the approximate weight of the victim, any medications the victim takes on a regular basis, and any medical problems you are aware of, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
While awaiting an ambulance remove anything from the victim’s mouth that might prevent him or her from breathing properly. One indication that the person isn’t receiving the proper amount of oxygen is that you’ll begin to notice shades of blue on parts of the body. The tongue or fingernails are the first to turn blue, followed by lips and skin. If you see blue anywhere on the body turn it on its back, unbutton any collar buttons, and lift the jaw to where it juts outward. This will open the airway more and help with breathing. Begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but only if the victim is not breathing.
If the victim is convulsing or unconscious, roll him over onto his stomach and turn the head to one side. If the victim vomits this will help to keep him from choking. Cover the victim with a blanket until the paramedics arrive.
If the person is still conscious get him to drink an 8 ounce glass of water to help dilute the poison. It may help you to know that most poisoning victims do recover. Only a handful need hospitalization and very few die – if emergency help is received quickly.
Keep syrup of ipecac on hand, particularly if you have small children. Upon contacting a poison control center you may be advised to administer the syrup, so that the victim will vomit the poisons. Do not give the syrup if you have not been told by a poison control specialist to do so.
Prepare for unexpected emergencies in advance by writing down the numbers to poison control, hospital, and regular physician. Keep syrup of ipecac on hand. Learn CPR basics. Keep all medications and cleaning fluids in locked cabinets, out of reach of children and animals. Never put medications in containers that were previously used for food. Never remove labels from medications where the medicine name and dosage can no longer be read. And, always throw away medications when you’re finished taking them.
Knowing what to do in case of an overdose will help you stay level-headed and in control until the loved one can get emergency treatment. Until then, you are all the victim has. Follow these guidelines and you may, one day, help save a life.