We were so close to the Adewole’s, our ex-neighbours, that I felt we were cousins. So, during one summer holiday, I was at their new house to “l’oludé”, as we always say it, lol! I thought I was already familiar with the house, so I did “too know” and reached for a Ragolis bottle in the pantry, thinking that the content was water. I was lucky I didn’t drink too much before I realised it was kerosene and my hosts were quite enlightened and calm. I just had to rest for a while and, Alhamdulillaah, I was fine.
But not everyone will be that lucky. In cases where the child inhales or aspirates the kerosene, he may start coughing and gasping. It can also burn the skin and eyes. Then, everyone suddenly becomes a doctor; giving the child all sort of things. Here are some of the things you should know/do if a child drinks kerosene:
1. Kerosene is a volatile liquid and it’s poorly absorbed in the gut, which means that the substance will not get circulated into the blood stream. It will be eliminated with faeces.
2. Most victims will have drunk only a little quantity, so there is really no need to panic, especially if there’s no sign/symptom.
3. Move the child to a well aerated space, remove all clothings and use plenty of water to wash away any sign of kerosene on the skin, eyes, nostrils, hair etc.
4. DO NOT give them anything to drink: no palm oil, no milk, not even water! Your intention is to make the child vomit, but this can be risky because the acidic content of the stomach can get into the lungs and trigger a severe inflammatory reaction.
5. Keep the child in an upright position while giving the first aid or moving to the hospital. This is to avoid regurgitation of stomach contents and subsequent contact with the airway.
6. If there is any sign of distress such as coughing, fast breathing, lethargy or coma, move the child to the nearest health centre immediately. These indicate injury to the lung and nervous system, which requires hospitalisation, supplementary oxygen, intubation etc.
7. The prognosis is usually good, but the initial urge to give unnecessary home remedies must be resisted.
On a final note, always keep dangerous substances out of reach of children and label containers appropriately to avoid any mix-up.
Have a nice weekend and stay safe!