Many hazardous chemicals have noxious fumes that can cause chemical irritation deep inside the lungs if it is inhaled. If a spill or leak occurs in the work place, time is of the essence. Even with proper training, a person can be severely injured if exposed to fumes for a long period of time. If a co-worker has been exposed to harmful fumes or chemical irritants, you need to follow these steps.
Know the Symptoms
Make sure you know the symptoms of an inhalation crisis. They include:
- A drop in blood pressure
- Intense pain
- Severe headaches
- Difficulty breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
If one or more of these symptoms are present, try and get the person away from the exposure area. It's best to get them outside of the building if possible.
Your quick thinking is important. You only get one chance to save someone's life so you will have to act quickly. Have someone call 9-1-1 and delegate others to seal off the exposure area.
Avoid Common Remedies
Until you know exactly what the person was exposed to avoid giving them milk or activated charcoal. In some cases, even water can have an adverse reaction. Find out what the person was exposed to and for how long so you know what to tell the paramedics when they arrive at the scene.
If you have a portable oxygen tank for emergency purposes, see if they will allow you to place the mask over their nose and mouth. Oxygen will help them breathe easier and help to clear their mind, making it possible for them to answer questions.
Inhaled chemical irritations are extremely serious and may take many months for a full recover. The quicker you act, the better off the person will be. Never hesitate.
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