March 20-26, 2016 is National Poison Prevention Week. In today’s blog, let’s take a look specifically at preventing inhaled poisoning and the appropriate emergency care in case such a poisoning occurs.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia explains that:
“Improper mixing of household substances or chemicals, prolonged use of strong cleaning products or malfunctioning household appliances can result in exposure to potentially hazardous fumes. Toxic fumes may irritate the lungs or may affect the heart and the nervous system.”
To prevent inhalation exposure:
- Always use household chemicals in a well-ventilated area.
- Read warning labels on products before use.
- Avoid mixing products.
- Discontinue use at the first sign of discomfort.
- Have gas, oil or kerosene heaters cleaned and serviced yearly. Follow instructions for any type of heating appliance.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
Emergency care for inhaled poisoning
Inhaled poisoning occurs when a harmful substance is breathed in. Common inhaled poisons include carbon monoxide from smoke or engine exhaust, natural gas, solvent fumes, and chemical vapors.
A person may complain of a headache, nausea, dizziness, and difficulty breathing. An altered mental status can occur.
Suspect inhaled poisoning whenever someone is working in an enclosed space and they are feeling ill.
Make sure it is safe to help. If you can do so without risk to yourself, immediately move the person to fresh air. Allow the person to find a comfortable position.
Activate EMS if the person is displaying any serious signs or symptoms. Call the National Poison Help Hotline at 1-800-222-1222 for additional directions on care.
Help identify the substance and provide details about the incident. Reassess regularly until another provider or EMS personnel takes over.
Be ready to respond to a poisoning incident by taking an emergency care class today. Click the button below to find an ASHI or MEDIC First Aid Training Center near you.