Emergency First Aid

Maggie Scarbrough

Check the label for specific instructions for first aid. If there are none available, follow these guidelines for skin exposure:


  • Drench victim’s skin and clothing with plenty of clean water. Pond, creek and even ditch water will work, as long as it is not contaminated.
  • Remove any contaminated equipment or clothing.
  • Use a mild liquid detergent to wash skin and hair thoroughly. If a shower is available, use it.
  • Dry and warm victim. Blankets, clean clothes or towels are appropriate. Do not allow them to become chilled.
  • Burned or injured skin should be covered immediately with dry, clean, soft, loose bandages or cloth.
  • Do not apply any substances to damaged skin.



For eye exposure:


  • Wash quickly and gently.
  • If you have access, use an eyewash dispenser. Otherwise, use a gentle flow of water across, not directly into, the eye.
  • Rinse for 15 minutes.
  • Do not use anything in the water.




For inhaled pesticides:


  • Move to fresh air immediately.
  • Warn others of danger.
  • Loosen tight clothing that may constrict breathing.
  • Use artificial respiration if victim is not breathing. If there is vomit or pesticide present, do not make contact with it. Use a breathing tube.



Swallowed pesticide or pesticide in the mouth:


  • Rinse with water.
  • Give up to 1 quart of water or milk to drink.
  • Check label. If recommended, induce vomiting.


To induce vomiting, make sure the victim is face down or kneeling. Use finger or the end of a spoon at the back of the throat. If available, use syrup of ipecac. Do not use any salt solutions.


Do not induce vomiting if the victim is having convulsions or is unconscious. If you know the person has consumed a corrosive poison (a strong acid or alkali), do not induce vomiting. It will burn the throat and the lungs. If the victim has consumed an emulsifiable concentrate, vomiting could be fatal as the solution could be inhaled during vomiting.


When your body cannot cope with the heat it is exposed to, heat stress is the resulting illness. Pesticide exposure is not the culprit although pesticide handlers are more susceptible when they are working in hot conditions, particularly with protective gear. The gear may make it impossible for your body to cool appropriately.


Heat stress that is mild may impair you while severe heat stress can kill you. Quick cooling is essential to prevent injury. If you suspect heat stress, stop! Find a way to cool down. Signs of heat stress include exhaustion, chills, dizziness, fainting, headache, nausea, dry mouth, lack of sweating or excessive sweating and altered behavior.


Since symptoms of heat stress are similar to those of pesticide poisoning, do not try to make a determination. Seek help first.


First aid for heat stress includes getting the victim to a cool area. Sponge or splash skin with cool water when possible. Remove any clothing or gear that may be keeping the victim warm. Encourage water consumption and keep the victim quiet.


Heat cramps are the result of the loss of body salt by sweating. Muscle spasms occur in legs, arms and stomach. Drinking lightly salted water or Gatorade will relieve these. Muscles may also be stretched or massaged.