Poisons are substances that can cause temporary or permanent
damage if too much is absorbed by the body. Poisons can be
swallowed, inhaled, injected or absorbed through the skin.
Swallowed poisons include chemicals, drugs, plants, fungi and
berries. For more on drugs, see drug
Dangerous chemicals include household products like bleach,
which can poison or burn the body if swallowed.
Poisonous plants include foxgloves, wild arum and certain types
of mushroom. Eating laburnum seeds can cause seizures.
Drugs, both prescribed or those bought over the counter, can
also be harmful if someone takes too many.
What to look for - swallowed poisons
If you think someone may have swallowed poison, these are the
five key things to look for:
- Nausea and vomiting (sometimes blood-stained)
- Cramping stomach pains
- A burning sensation
- Partial loss of responsiveness
What you need to do - swallowed poisons
• If the person is conscious, ask them what they have
swallowed, how much and when. Look for clues, like plants, berries
or empty packaging and containers.
• Call 999 or 112 for medical help and tell them as much
information as possible.
• Keep checking their breathing, pulse and level of
• If they become unresponsive, open their airway and check
breathing. Follow the instructions for treating someone who
• Never try to make the person vomit, but if they vomit
naturally then put some of their vomit into a bag or container and
give it to the ambulance. This may help them identify the