Choose the right healthcare service to get the care you need and to enable the NHS to help the greatest number of people.

GREEN Self-care or ask a pharmacist for advice

Avoid medicine poisoning:

  • read patient information leaflets and take the exact dose recommended
  • ask your pharmacist or GP for advice if unsure
  • check if your medicine should not be taken with alcohol or certain types of food
  • check if your medicine can react if taken with other medicines, including herbal remedies
  • never take a medicine prescribed for someone else

Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • get a carbon monoxide alarm for each room that contains appliances that burn gas, oil, coal or wood
  • ensure heating and cooking appliances are properly installed and keep them maintained
  • ensure your boiler is serviced regularly by a qualified engineer
  • keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained
  • do not use a barbeque or camping stove indoors, or inside a tent
  • do not leave vehicles or other engines on inside enclosed area i.e. garages

Help with alcohol poisoning:

  • stay with the person because there is a risk they could choke on their own sick or stop breathing
  • sit them up if they are awake, or put them in the recovery position if they have passed out and check they are breathing properly
  • give them water to sip if they’re able to swallow
  • keep them warm with a jacket or blanket
  • do not let them drink more alcohol
  • do not give them coffee or drinks containing caffeine because this can dehydrate
  • do not put them in a cold shower or bath because there is a risk they could get too cold, fall or lose consciousness in the water
  • do not try to make them sick

AMBER It is urgent but not life threatening

If a person is suspected of having overdosed, including alcohol or carbon monoxide poisoning but does not appear to be seriously ill, call 111 for advice.

Call 111 or visit 111.nhs.uk

RED It is a life-threatening medical emergency

If you suspect an overdose with suicidal intent, alcohol poisoning, carbon monoxide poisoning, or other.  Symptoms may include but are not limited to:

  • being sick, uncontrolled peeing or pooing
  • dizziness
  • palpitations
  • breathing difficulties
  • uncontrollable restlessness or agitation
  • seizure or fit
  • sudden confusion
  • loss of consciousness
  • above symptoms and also profuse sweating

Inhalation of poisonous fumes

If helping, do not put yourself in danger

If the person is conscious, encourage them to make their way out of the contaminated area

Do not enter any enclosed areas to remove the person; toxic gases and fumes can be very dangerous inhaled

Once in fresh air, check to see if they’re OK and call 999 if they have signs of serious poisoning

Call 999 to request an ambulance if the person is unconscious or unable to get out of an affected area

Any concerns around toxic fumes or smoke inhalation should be reviewed by Emergency Department

Call 999, or go straight to Emergency Department, Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham. Do not self-drive.

Helping someone conscious:

Ask them to sit still and stay with them while waiting for medical help.

If they have been poisoned by swallowing something, try to get them to spit out anything remaining in their mouth.

If a harmful substance has splashed onto skin or clothes, remove contaminated items, and wash the affected area with warm or cool water.

Helping someone unconscious:

Try to wake them and encourage them to spit out anything left in their mouth.

Do not put your hand into their mouth and do not try to make them sick.

While waiting for medical help, lie the person on their side with a cushion behind their back and their upper leg pulled slightly forward. This will help stop them falling on their face or rolling backwards.

Wipe any vomit away from their mouth and keep their head pointing down, to allow any vomit to escape.

Do not give them anything to eat or drink.

If the person is not breathing or their heart has stopped, begin CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) if you know how to.