We all know that some normal household substances can cause damage if ingested. Bleach is a potentially harmful substance and should not be stored anywhere accessible to young children or animals. It is easy to confuse with water, so if you have bleach products in the house it’s good to know what happens if you drink bleach and the symptoms of bleach poisoning. Here’s what to do if someone drinks bleach, including what to do if your child drinks bleach and other bleach-related emergencies.
What happens if you drink bleach?
If your child drinks bleach or you have ingested it, firstly spit out anything that might remain in your mouth or encourage your child to do so. Next, get medical help immediately; don’t try and deal with the situation yourself. Call for an ambulance and give them the full details of what you think has happened. Be sure to have your address to hand.
Once help is on its way, stay with your child if they’re the person affected. Ensure there’s no more of the substance left in their mouth and try to rinse out the mouth if possible. While you’re waiting, monitor for symptoms: if your child swallowed bleach, symptoms include vomiting, stomach pain, confusion, drowsiness, fainting fits or loss of consciousness. If they are not conscious, put the child into the recovery position. Don’t put your hand in their mouth and don’t try to make them sick as this can cause vomit to go into the lungs.
If any of the substance is on their clothes, remove the contaminated items and wash the affected area with lukewarm or cool water, being sure not to get it on yourself in the mean time. When help arrives, give as much detail to medical staff as possible, including things like what the substance they ingested was (have the bottle to hand if you can) and how much you think was consumed. They will also want to know the person’s age and weight as well as any pre-existing medical conditions.
What to do if you get bleach in the eye
Bleach can damage eyes so make sure you know what to do if you get bleach in your eye. The first thing is to rinse it out immediately with a stream of water for at least 30 minutes. Around the house this will probably mean using a shower head or tap. Don’t use other chemicals! While you are rinsing, get someone to call for medical help and be sure to give the container of the product that got in your eye to the medical professional so they know exactly what it was.
How to store and use bleach appropriately
To prevent any mishaps, be careful about how you store bleach. Always check the label for storage advice. Once you’ve finished using something, make sure the lid is on properly. Best practice is to keep anything containing chemicals on a shelf high enough that kids and pets can’t get to it. Make sure it’s not somewhere it could fall off and ideally keep it out of sight so that bright colours and packaging don’t attract curiosity.
Those are our top tips on preventing any bleach-related emergencies. Remember, bleach is a handy household cleaning product, it just needs to be used in the right way and treated with respect!