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Swallowed petrol? Here’s what you should do

Swallowed petrol? Here’s what you should do

Snapshot: If inadvertently swallowed, a teaspoon of petrol may not cause you a lot of harm. However there are some precautions you should take.

My mother once accidentally filled a water bottle, which was earlier used by my father to carry petrol siphoned from the car’s tank. She refrigerated the bottle, and I drank what was in it, only to realise that I have swallowed petrol with water. Since petrol is lighter than water, you cannot see it if it’s present in small quantities.

The mixture left a crispy and bitter taste in my mouth. I did not realise what I had drank until I burped the first time. And it felt tremendously uncomfortable each time I had to do so for the petrol trying to escape as vapours through my mouth. The ordeal was not over until the petrol naturally went pass through my system in a few hours.

It’s better to go to a hospital if you have swallowed a large quantity. In case you have swallowed a few drops or even a teaspoon full, it should not be a cause of worry. However, you must take few precautions. Here’s a list of precautions / thing to keep in mind.

1. Petrol in your body can affect your heart and brain. If swallowed in large doses it can cause permanent brain damage.

2. Poisoning can occur from large doses of petrol and can cause dizziness, difficulty in breathing, vision loss, stomach pain etc.    

3. Do not smoke or drink alcohol for about 24 hours. 

4. After rinsing the mouth with water, drink juices or water. This would let petrol pass quickly through the system.

5. Petrol in the digestive system is likely to create some discomfort and cause the person to burp. This is nothing to worry about.

6. Avoid drinking aerated drinks as it would aggravate the burps that might naturally result from petrol.

7. In case the person vomits naturally, it’s okay. Inhaling Gasoline can be much more dangerous and can cause respiratory problems. Therefore do not try to induce vomiting as it may result inhalation of fumes. One should avoid breathing the gaseous vapours.

8. Petrol is highly volatile and therefore the risk of brain damage is much greater in swallowing it. Inhalation in large quantities can cause lung oedema.

9. Children are more susceptible than adults and may experience adverse affects even with smaller quantity of liquid.  

10. It’s widely assumed that drinking milk or eating milk products can stop poisoning, while the opposite may be true as milk can cause faster absorption of petrol in the body. It’s better to take an opinion of doctor before doing so. 

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