Iowa Statewide Poison Center, A Public Service provided jointly
by St. Luke's Regional Medical Center/Iowa Health System, Sioux City,
and University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City
Peer Review Status: Internally and Externally Peer
Creation Date: April 2001
Last Revision Date: April 2001
Do you know what to do if someone is
Emergency action steps
- Remain calm.
- Don't delay seeking advice.
- Remove the poison from contact with eyes, skin, or mouth.
If poison made contact with eyes:
- Gently wash eyes with lukewarm tap water for at least 15
- Have the person blink as much as possible while flooding the
- Do not allow person to rub the affected eye(s).
If poison made contact with skin:
- Remove contaminated clothing.
- Wash the poison from the skin with large volumes of water for
If poison made contact with the mouth:
- Remove all tablets, powder, plants, etc., from the mouth.
- Examine the mouth for any burns, cuts, irritation or unusual
If poison is inhaled:
- Immediately get the person to fresh air.
- Avoid breathing the fumes.
- Open all doors and windows.
- If the person is not breathing, begin artificial
If poison is swallowed:
- Do NOT give anything by mouth until calling for advice at
- For chemical or household products - unless the patient is
unconscious, having convulsions or cannot swallow - give milk or
- Call for professional advice about whether or not to make the
The next steps
Once you have taken the first emergency steps, call your doctor
or the Iowa Statewide Poison Center 1-800-222-1222.
Don't hesitate to call the Poison Center. It is your first line
defense against injury. If you are unsure what poison the patient has
come into contact with, contact the Poison Center for guidance.
When you call, provide your doctor or the Poison Center with as
much information as possible:
- Identify yourself and the person who came in contact with
- Give your telephone number so you can be reached if your call
is accidentally disconnected.
- Give the approximate age and weight of the person who came in
contact with the poison.
- If possible, have the poison container available so you can
read the label to your doctor or the Poison Center.
- Estimate how much poison was taken.
Your doctor or the Poison Center will tell you what steps to take
Again, remain calm, but don't delay seeking advice. There is time
To induce vomiting
If your doctor or the Poison Center indicates you should induce
vomiting in the person who swallowed poison, use the prescribed
amount of Syrup of IPECAC.
- Children one year of age or less - two teaspoons (10 ml).
- Children one year of age and older - one Tablespoon (15
- Adults - two Tablespoons (30 ml).
Give the appropriate dose of Syrup of IPECAC with a glass of water
or a favorite drink.
If the patient hasn't vomited in 15 minutes, give another dose of
Syprup of IPECAC and another glass of liquid.
Don't waste time trying other ways to induce vomiting.
- Tickling the back of the throat is ineffective.
- Do NOT use salt water. It is ineffective and potentially
Never induce vomiting if:
- The person is unconscious.
- The person is having a convulsion.
- A caustic substance (strong acid or alkali) was
- A petroleum-based product (gas, lighter fluid, cleaning
products, furniture polish, etc.) was swallowed.
If you are instructed to go to the hospital:
- Take the poison and its container or the plant with you.
- Do not attempt additional first aid unless your doctor or the
Poison Center instructs you to do so.
The best way to treat poisoning is to avoid it. If it does
occur, be prepared for it.
To avoid a poisoning:
- Keep all drugs and dangerous household chemicals locked
- Never put a dangerous chemical in a beverage container.
- Do not rely on child-proof caps.
- Do not store drugs in purses, drawers or the medicine
- Never call medicine "candy."
If there is a poisoning:
Be sure to have Syrup of IPECAC available to induce vomiting if
instructed by your doctor or the Poison Center. Keep one ounce for
each child or grandchild in the home available for emergencies.
Syrup of IPECAC:
- Can be purchased at your pharmacy without a prescription.
- Should be stored at room temperature.
- Will keep for years.
Iowa Statewide Poison Center 1-800-222-1222 (Call