First Aid for Pesticides © 2000

Have you ever stopped to consider how a pesticide
poisoning may occur on your farm? The possibility of a poisoning happening may seem next to
impossible, however the impossible can happen. These incidents may not lead to a poisoning
but they could and you should know what to do. This program reviews basic first aid techniques,
you can follow at home in case a pesticide poisoning occurs on your farm. This information
does not replace a first aid course. For your own safety and the welfare of your family,
consider taking a first aid course offered in your area. When an accident happens with
pesticides, be prepared to act quickly and calmly. Don’t hesitate, take charge of the
situation. Your quick actions may prevent additional exposure and may minimize injury.
Keep in mind that first aid is just that. It’s the initial effort to help while medical
attention is on the way. There are some basic first aid steps to follow for each type of
poisoning. These are steps you can take to help yourself or someone else. Remember if
you are helping someone else, protect yourself from becoming poisoned. This may mean putting
on protective equipment and clothing before entering a contaminated area or washing thoroughly
after giving first aid. Let’s review these first aid steps. If a pesticide contacts the
skin as it did in this particular incident, would you know what to do? When a pesticide
contacts the skin, first stop the exposure, remove the contaminated clothing. Then drench
the skin with water. Anybody that is working with the pesticides should have water and
perhaps even soap with them in case something happens and they get exposed to pesticides.
But the rule is you get the pesticide away from the person. So if it’s on the skin then
that pesticide has to be thoroughly removed because it’s being absorbed as long as there
is any of it left on the skin. This includes the face so if you got a spray in the face,
wipe the lips, rinse out the mouth, spit out the water, wash your face very well, hair,
under the fingernails, as long as there’s any particle of that liquid or powder left
in your eyes, in your hair, in your clothing, it’s being absorbed and you have to get it
away from the patient. When somebody has swallowed an insecticide or any kind of a pesticide,
we used to advocate vomiting as a first aid measure. And now we don’t do that any more
and basically this is because unless it’s done properly, it’s ineffective but also because
you get sudden onset of symptoms. There’s a lot of different pesticides out there and
so we just don’t recommend it. What we do recommend is that you wash off, if it’s just
a swallow, usually in an occupational setting, this is something that’s happened because
the face has been sprayed, not because someone’s actually deliberately drunk something. But
whatever the case, you wash off the face, clean off the mouth, take a sip of something
to clear out that and then get yourself to a phone where you can phone and find out where
to go, what to do, whether you need an ambulance, what kind of first aid or how quickly that
particular poison requires treatment. Never induce vomiting, when the person is
in a coma, unconscious, or in convulsions even if the label tells you to do so. Do not
induce vomiting if the person has swallowed a petroleum product or a corrosive product.
If a pesticide is swallowed, get the person to medical attention as soon as possible.
After carrying out the first aid steps for any of these poisonings, it’s time to get
medical help. What we need to know is the name of the product, this is very important
because there are different pesticides and there are different categories and they act
in different ways. Some of them are actually slow to be absorbed and others are rather
rapid and knowing if the patient has any symptoms yet, so the duration and how long the person
was exposed, what the name of the product was, how much of the product they were exposed
to. If these things are known and whether or not they’re having any symptoms and also
how much they weigh. These are things that we need to know. I mean if you don’t have
that information, that’s fine. We’ll give them the generic first aid but as much information
as we can have would be helpful in determining how quickly that person needs to go to hospital.
Collecting the facts won’t take long and you will know most of the necessary information
after carrying out the first aid procedures. If all four facts can not be determined, don’t
waste time. Call for help, give whatever information you have to the ambulence personnel or poison
information centre profesionals. These four basic facts are important so let’s look at
them in more detail. Identify the product. Collect the container, label, leftover pesticide
or even vomit which may be used to identify the poison. A complete label provides immediate
identification. The pest control act registration number alone will completely identify the
product to the poison information centre. The guarantee gives the active ingredient
of the product, the part of the product most likely to cause poisoning. The label also
gives you first aid directions and your doctor toxilogical information. Your doctor can get
further information from the manufacturer. The name and address of the company is also
on the label. Determine the amount taken. Be prepared to estimate how much of the pesticide
may have been taken. When a pesticide spills on your arm you can judge the amount spilled.
When you breathe in pesticides, it is difficult to know exactly how much was inhaled. Try
to judge the quantity as best you can, as this will help to determine the severity of
the accident. Determine the route of entry. The route of entry can be through the mouth,
skin or lungs. The first aid you give will depend on how the pesticide entered the body.
It is quite obvious that this person has had pesticide contact his arm and the possibility
of skin absorption exists. In other cases, the route of entry may not be so obvious.
Sometimes the pesticide will have entered the body in all three ways. Finally determine
the time period. This person was only exposed to the pesticide for a short time. Sometimes
the exposure may be a few hours or even days. It may not be obvious that the symptoms are
the result of a pesticide poisoning. The symptoms are like the symptoms of asthma, food poisoning
and the flu. Symptoms can be headache, dizziness, nausea, perspiration, blurred vision, cramps,
vomiting and fever. With this information you will be prepared to answer the questions
that ambulance personnel or the poison information centre professionals will have, give the information
and follow their instructions. Keep emergency telephone numbers close at hand. The poison
information centre number is listed on the very first page of the telephone book. Advice
is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The only thing I can say about pesticide
poisoning is that, some of them are absorbed through the skin at varying rates and just
because, somebody doesn’t feel symptomatic at the time, it doesn’t mean that they don’t
need to be thoroughly decontaminated because a lot of people have sort of a sub acute exposure
and they’re feeling off. They’re feeling malaise, they’re feeling fatigued, they’re feeling
nauseated for months and not recognizing that they actually are poisoned. People who work
regularly with pesticides need to be monitored, they need to have their health monitored and
they need to be scrupulous about decontamination. The other thing I’d like to mention is that
some articles of clothing, leather for example, absorb pesticides and you should be careful
about what you’re wearing when working with pesticides because you could be poisoning
yourself. The best defense against a pesticide poisoning
is to prevent one from occurring. Handle pesticides properly by following label directions and
use common sense. Be prepared for the possibility of pesticide poisoning. Here are a few suggestions.
Become familiar with the pesticide products you are using by reading the label. Be alert
for signs and symptoms of over-exposure. Make it a habit to tell someone, what pesticide
you are using and where the label is. Better yet have a binder or file of the pesticide
labels you use near the telephone for quick reference. Always have clean water close by
when working with pesticides. Post emergency telephone numbers near the telephone. Most
importantly take a first aid course. Knowing what to do in the event of a poisoning could
make all the difference.

Leave a Reply

(*) Required, Your email will not be published