General first aid for accidents with fumigants

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Detailed instructions for first aid for accidents with hydrogen cyanide (HCN) methyl bromide, phosphine and dichlorvos are given in Chapter 6, under the heading of each of these fumigants. The following more general instructions apply to accidents from inhalation or spilling of poisonous chemicals and are suggested for chemicals in common use. These instructions are taken from the pertinent sections of the recommendations for first aid for poisoning by courtesy of the publisher, the Committee on Toxicology of the American Medical Association.


First aid must be started at once. If possible, one person should begin treatment while another calls a physician. When this is not possible, the nature of the poison will determine whether to call a physician first or begin first aid measures and then notify a physician.

Measures to be taken before arrival of a physician

Inhaled poisons

  1. Carry patient (do not let him walk) to fresh air immediately.
  2. Open all doors and windows.
  3. Loosen all tight clothing.
  4. Apply artificial respiration if breathing has stopped or is irregular.
  5. Prevent chilling (wrap patient in blankets).
  6. Keep patient as quiet as possible.
  7. If patient is convulsing, keep him in bed in semidark room; avoid jarring or noise.
  8. Do not give alchohol in any form.

Skin contamination

  1. Drench skin with water (shower, hose, faucet).
  2. Apply stream of water on skin while removing clothing.
  3. Cleanse skin thoroughly with water; rapidity in washing is most important in reducing extent of injury.

Eve contamination

  1. Hold eyelids open, wash eyes with gentle stream of running water immediately. Delay of a few seconds increases extent of injury.
  2. Continue washing until physician arrives.
  3. Do not use chemicals; they may increase extent of injury.

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