Poisons are substances that if inhaled, ingested, absorbed or injected, harm the structures or functions of the body. Some types of
poisons may act immediately on the body, others may act more slowly. Some poisons, such as cyanide, are so toxic they only
require a minute amount to be harmful, while others, such as garden sprays, are cumulative and require exposure over a long period
to achieve the same level of toxicity. Some may be carcinogenic, and cause fatal cancers some years after exposure.
Whatever the substance, remember that PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE!
always ensure that poisonous substances are kept only if really necessary
pills and medications should always be locked away in a childproof cupboard
Substances are never decanted into attractive containers such as soft drink bottles
all substances are labelled and understood before use
prescription medications are used only by the person prescribed them
all poisons and medications are disposed of correctly.
The wide varieties of poisonous substances present with a similarly wide variety of signs and symptoms. The list
below is not exhaustive, but casualties may present with all, or at least some, of them.
Obtain a history, look for empty bottles, containers, and sometimes suicide notes.
May include the following:
If possible, ascertain what poison or medicine has been taken, including how much and when.