1. Remove the Pesticide From the Environment
The first step to treating exposure is to remove the victim from the pesticide. If the poisoning took place in an enclosed space, get him out to fresh air where there are no traces of the insecticide. If it got on his clothes, remove them as quickly as possible. Take steps to make sure you are not contaminated in the process: wear protective clothing and avoid contact with any areas containing the insecticide.
2. Make Sure the Victim Is Breathing
When you are in a safe area, check to ensure that the victim’s air passages are clear and she is breathing comfortably. Sit her up if you can, or tip her chin forward to make sure she doesn’t choke on vomit. If she’s having trouble breathing, give her oxygen or administer CPR. If you deliver mouth-to-mouth, make sure the victim doesn’t have any pesticide around her mouth or lips that may contaminate you.
3. Wash the Pesticide Off the Skin and Eyes
If the pesticide is burning the skin, you need to wash it off. Use clean water with a strong detergent. If the pesticide got in the victim’s eyes, you should gently run clean water over them to clear them. Keep the eyelids open and the water temperature at a comfortable level. Make sure there are no chemicals in the water, which may react with the pesticide. Run water over the victim’s eyes for at least 15 minutes.
4. Treat Swallowed Pesticides
If the pesticide was swallowed, you may need further information on how to proceed. With some pesticides, you should induce vomiting immediately by sticking your finger down the victim’s throat or administering ipecac syrup. With other pesticides, however, inducing vomiting will only cause more damage. In that case, you should wash the victim’s mouth out with water to clear it of poison, taking care that he doesn’t choke on or swallow any of the water. You should then proceed to an emergency room or poison center.
Some pesticides may require you to dilute the poison with a specific ingredient. Activated charcoal may also be used in some instances to absorb the poison and let it pass safely out of the body. The necessary information should be on the pesticide label, and a poison center can tell you how to proceed as well.
5. Seek Professional Care
Regardless of the type of pesticide, it’s important that qualified medical personnel treat the victim. Once you have stabilized her, call a poison center or get to the nearest hospital. Even if you think the danger has passed, a doctor should always take a look.
About this Author
Rob Vaux has completed a book that includes an investigation of poisons and their effects on the body, to be published in 2008 by Studio 2 Publishing. Vaux is also an expert on common mental health issues, game theory and the effects of stress on interpersonal dynamics.