Poison First Aid

Poison emergencies can happen quickly and unexpectedly. Poisons can enter your body in one or all of the following ways:

  • Through your mouth (oral ingestion)
  • Through your nose (inhalation)
  • In your eye (ocular)
  • Into your bloodstream or a muscle under your skin (parenteral)
  • Through your skin (dermal)

Swallowed Poison

  • Don’t wait for symptoms – call the Indiana Poison Center (IPC), even if you just think someone might be poisoned.
  • Don’t give anything by mouth.


  • Some out-of-date product labels or health information charts may carry incorrect treatment information. Call the poison center for instructions. DO NOT make the person throw up by sticking fingers or other objects down their throat.

Poison on The Skin

  • Remove all clothing and jewelry that has the poison on it.
  • Wash the skin with warm water and soap and rinse well.
  • Call the IPC.

Poison in the Eye

  • Remove contact lenses, if worn.
  • Rinse the eyes for a full 15 minutes (for older children and adults, getting in the shower works best).
  • Aim a gentle stream of warm water on the forehead above the affected eye. If both eyes are affected, aim the stream at the bridge of the nose. Do not pour water directly onto the surface of the eye. Eyes do not need to be held open.
  • Blink to help flush the eye.
  • For young children, use the sprayer hose at the kitchen sink or a pitcher and follow the instructions for an adult.
  • Don’t apply eye drops unless told to do so by a healthcare professional.

Inhaled Poison

  • Protect yourself from the fumes – only go into the area if it’s clear.
  • Carry or drag the affected person to fresh air.
  • If necessary, perform CPR.
  • If the person is unconscious or having trouble breathing, call 911.
  • Call the IPC.
  • Don’t apply eye drops unless told to do so by a healthcare professional.

If a person is unconscious, having seizures, or having trouble breathing, call 911 first.

Additional Resources