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Pediatric Video Tutorial: EMS and Lookalike Poisons


Poisonings are a significant threat to children, posing a unique set of challenges for emergency medical services (EMS) providers. Lookalike poisons, in particular, can be especially dangerous due to their deceptive appearance that closely resembles harmless substances. This video tutorial provides essential information for EMS personnel on identifying and managing pediatric poisonings, with a focus on lookalike poisons.

Identifying Lookalike Poisons

Lookalike poisons are substances that are intentionally or unintentionally designed to resemble harmless products. They can include:

  • Over-the-counter medications: Capsules, tablets, and liquids that look like candy or juice
  • Household products: Cleaners, detergents, and pesticides that resemble food or beverages
  • Industrial chemicals: Powders, granules, or liquids that may be mistaken for harmless substances

Common Lookalike Poisons

Some of the most common lookalike poisons include:

  • Dishwasher detergent pods: Resembling colorful candies or fruit snacks
  • Laundry detergent pods: Appearing like gummy bears or other treats
  • E-cigarette liquids: Sold in containers that mimic candy flavors
  • Bleach: Stored in bottles similar to those used for juice or water
  • Plant fertilizers: Appearing as sugar or flavored crystals

Risks and Symptoms of Ingestion

Ingestion of lookalike poisons can lead to severe health consequences, depending on the substance involved. Symptoms may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain and diarrhea
  • Chemical burns to the mouth, throat, and esophagus
  • Respiratory distress
  • Neurological effects, such as seizures or coma

EMS Response

In the event of a suspected lookalike poisoning, EMS providers should prioritize the following steps:

  • Establish airway, breathing, and circulation: Ensure the child is breathing and has a strong pulse.
  • Secure the scene: Remove the child from any further exposure to the toxin.
  • Identify the poison: If possible, determine the substance that was ingested.
  • Contact poison control: Seek immediate medical guidance from a poison control center.
  • Administer antidotes: If appropriate, administer antidotes as directed by poison control.
  • Transport to hospital: In severe cases, transport the child to a hospital for further evaluation and treatment.


The best way to prevent lookalike poisonings is through education and proactive measures:

  • Secure household products: Keep all potential toxins out of reach of children, using child-resistant packaging and locked cabinets.
  • Label products clearly: Avoid using containers that resemble food or beverages for storage of hazardous substances.
  • Educate children: Teach children the dangers of lookalike poisons and the importance of reporting any suspected ingestion.
  • Be vigilant: Supervise children closely around potential toxins and remain aware of any suspicious behavior.


Pediatric poisonings, particularly involving lookalike poisons, pose a critical threat to young children. EMS providers play a vital role in识别ing and promptly managing these emergencies. By following the guidelines outlined in this video tutorial, EMS personnel can effectively mitigate the risks associated with lookalike poisons and improve the overall outcomes for children who have accidentally ingested dangerous substances. Collaboration with poison control centers, ongoing education, and proactive prevention measures are essential components of a comprehensive approach to reducing the incidence and impact of pediatric poisonings.

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