The following notes on special poisons will prove useful:
Where nitric, sulphuric or hydrochloric acid has been swallowed, it is well to administer carbonate of soda before giving the emetic.
This acid is often found among the articles provided for household use. being used for cleaning brass and various metals, as well as for removing stains of ink and iron mould. In former times it was used for cleaning boot tops and for some other purposes. In appearance it resembles epsom salts so closely that even experienced chemists might be deceived, if it were not for the taste, for while the acid is intensely sour the salts are as intensely bitter.
The proper antidote to oxalic acid is some form of lime, and the best method of administering it is to mix finely pulverized chalk with water to the consistency of cream and swallow it. It is a singular fact that when oxalic acid is largely diluted with water, it acts very rapidly and energetically, destroying life almost with the rapidity of prussic acid. Hence to administer soapy water, or any other very diluted remedy, would be almost fatal. And yet this course was actually recommended by a popular scientific journal.
As this is one of the most rapid of all poisons in its action, prompt and energetic measures are demanded. Cold affusion to the head and spine has been found the most efficacious mode of treatment. Internal remedies appear to be of no service. The vapor of ammonia may be cautiously applied to the nostrils, and stimulating liniments by friction to the chest and abdomen, but unless the dose is small, and the patient is seen early, there can be little hope of benefit from any treatment. Certain chemical substances (cyanides) from which prussic acid is slowly evolved by the action of the air, are used in electro-plating and in photography. These substances are themselves very strong poisons, and if accidentally swallowed they cause death with such rapidity that there is scarcely any time to apply any remedias. Green copperas (sulphate of iron) dissolved in water and administered would decompose and neutralize the poison, after which the directions given for prussic acid should be followed. When poisoning occurs from breathing the vapors arising from these salts, it is caused by prussic acid, and should be treated accordingly.
By arsenic is generally meant the white oxide of the metal arsenic. It is also known as arsenious acid. Paris green is well known and owes its deadly properties to arsenic. In all cases in which poisonous doses of arsenic have been swallowed, our great dependance must be placed upon emetics and purgatives. Persons who take arsenic upon a full stomach frequently escape its effects, and therefore it is always well to give copious draughts of milk, or, if more convenient, raw eggs, beaten up. Then, as soon as possible, administer an emetic (mustard is as good as any) and keep up its action by giving milk during the intervals of the paroxysms of vomiting. When the stomach no longer rejects what is swallowed, give a good dose of castor oil.