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General First Aid Advice for Poisonings

General First Aid Advice for Poisonings

In case of poisoning:

Please Note Please contact your local Poison Information Service immediately:

New Zealand: 0800 POISON (0800 764 766)
Find other centres here

Or seek medical advice from another health professional

Click below for first aid advice for poisons that are:

If Swallowed:

If the person is awake:
Remain calm
Protect yourself from poisoning
Seek medical advice from a Poisons Centre or your Doctor
Bring the product container to the phone if you can

If the person is sleepy or unconscious but is still breathing:
Call an ambulance
Place the person in the recovery position:
Lie the person on their side (not their back)
Ensure their head is lower than their body

If the patient is not breathing or does not have a pulse:
Call an ambulance
Apply cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

DO NOT make the person vomit without advice from a medical professional

Vomiting is not effective at removing a swallowed substance
Vomit can sometimes be inhaled into the lungs, causing lung injury.
This risk is increased by:
Products that can froth (e.g. shampoo, dishwashing liquid)
Products that are light, and easily inhaled (e.g. petrol, oils)
Children, who often become drowsy after vomiting
Some products (e.g. cleaners) can cause burns to the throat. Vomiting increases the risk of burns occurring, and may also cause more significant lung injury if inhaled.

DO NOT give fluids unless instructed to do so by the Poisons Centre

This may cause the person to vomit (see above)
For some toxic substances, this can help the substance to be absorbed into the body and cause poisoning

Rinse or wipe the mouth out to clear away any remaining substance.


TOXINZ ( is the National Poisons Centre's Internet database containing information regarding toxic compounds and the management of poisoned patients.
For information on subscribing to TOXINZ, contact

University of Otago NZ National Poisons Centre

All information on this site is subject to a disclaimer.