Wilderness Survival: What To Do If You’ve Eaten A Poisonous Plant

If you suspect that someone is the victim of poisoning, particularly when foraging in the wild, you’ll need to act fast. While most poisonings merely cause digestive distress, you don’t want to take the chance that worse symptoms will develop. A quick response to toxins will minimize the damage they can cause and perhaps even save a life.

If Medical Care Is Available

Call 911 immediately, if a poisoning is suspected. Give them the name of the plant, or the best description you can muster. Explain the plant part eaten and how much was eaten. Provide the time and manner of consumption, as well as the age and weight of the victim. Finally, describe the poisoning symptoms that are being observed. Wait for an ambulance, or take a trip to the doctor, as directed.

If Medical Care Is Not Available

In this scarier scenario, you’re on your own. Have the victim drink several glasses of water, and induce vomiting. This can be done by sticking a finger down the throat, or consuming an emetic (like ipecac syrup). Vomit several times, until the stomach is clear, then monitor the victim for symptoms of shock or other serious medical issues. Try to get to medical care as soon as possible.

Don’t Forget About Allergic Reactions

Although most common edible plants are widely tolerated, this doesn’t mean that you won’t have an allergic reaction to them. Some plants that are commonly considered edible may irritate a few people. This may mean nausea or digestive upset. It could also mean rashes, hives and similar irritation. In the worst cases, someone may have a severe allergic reaction which could be dangerous. If you have food allergies, be cautious as you try new wild edible plant foods. Try just one at a time, limit your portion sizes, and try just one new thing per day to discover how your body reacts to the new food. Why the separation? If you became ill after eating a wild plant potluck, then you wouldn’t know which plant made you ill. And after getting sick once, no one is going to want to get sick again.

These tips and many more survival tips are in MacWelch’s books: Prepare For Anything – the Hunting & Gathering Survival Manual – and How To Survive Anything

Follow him on Twitter @timmacwelch

And check out more of MacWelch’s outdoor skills and survival articles in Outdoor Life Magazine.

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