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What to Do If You Accidentally Drink Kerosene: It Happened to Me

When I was a toddler I accidentally drank kerosene.

In Jamaica, especially in the countryside, water is always an issue—especially in the warmer months when there is no rain. People store water in containers we call jugs, but they are in fact bottles.

It is not common for people to label these containers, and children don't often know the difference. Kerosene used to be stored under the kitchen sink. Of course it has its own colour, a pale yellowish hue, and it smells. But usually it doesn't smell until you actually pour it. If you have an uncovered container of kerosene sitting still in a corner and it is untouched, you will not really smell it until someone upsets it. Here is the dilemma. If a child is thirsty and an adult is not around, the child might be inclined to drink the kerosene by drinking directly from the container.

During the 1970s and 1980s, many children were becoming ill from drinking kerosene, so the government requested a coloured kerosene be sold instead. So we got an aqua coloured kerosene, but it was phased out after a while. We now have a slightly yellow kerosene, and the smell is more awful than ever.


How It Happened

I was about three years old. My mother was at work, and I was left with a babysitter. Now to tell the truth I don't remember if it was my brother or my sister who was the babysitter at the time, so I will just refer to the person as "the babysitter."

In those days, kerosene was very popular in Jamaica because everyone had lamps and stoves that burned this fuel. I believe the kerosene was stored under the sink in the kitchen in a plastic gallon bottle similar to those we would fetch water in.

I don't remember pouring the kerosene, it but I do remember the taste of it in my mouth and the stench of it. Every time I smell the liquid now the memory of that awful taste and a very strong sense of deja vu overtake me. I feel sick to my stomach and feel as though I need to vomit.

After drinking the kerosene as a toddler, I became sick to my stomach and someone realized what had happened. I was taken to the hospital and my stomach was pumped. I was released with medication, or so I was told, but the most vivid memory I have is that I was given a tea of kola nut to drink. In Jamaica we call the kola nut "bissy." It is a powerful antidote and was used in those days to counter poison.

I was later told that I had been thirsty—and being the Little Miss Independent that I was, I had wanted to fetch the water myself. So I took my cup and poured the kerosene in. I had just about a cup of the awful stuff. The cup was a toddler-sized, so it can't have been more than four ounces. Apparently the bottle was not full either, since I was able to lift it and pour.

Can Kerosene kill?

Yes it can!

Kerosene can cause death up to a month after consumption depending on the quantity swallowed.

Here are the effects of kerosene in humans:

  • Inhalation: Damage to the airways and lungs which leads to breathing difficulties. The throat may also get swollen.
  • Eyes: Kerosene can cause blindness and it certainly can cause pain in the eyes.
  • If swallowed: Abdominal pain, may vomit blood and have bloody stool
  • If absorbed into the blood stream can lower the blood pressure very rapidly which can damage the heart.
  • Drinking Kerosene can damage the nervous system too. People will feel drowsy, depressed, headaches, feel drunk, weak, dizzy and staggering.
  • Kerosene can burn the skin and cause irritation.

What to do if you accidentally drink kerosene?

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  • Get to the emergency immediately! Call 911 or have someone take you to the hospital. Do not try to vomit or drink water.
  • Flush eyes with water if kerosene got into eye
  • Wash area on skin where kerosene came in contact
  • Get to a hospital if you feel dizzy or lightheaded after inhaling fumes.

Kerosene is a dangerous product that should be stored properly and away from the reach of children. My mom certainly learned her lesson and has been careful ever since.

Chemicals like kerosene and gasoline should not be stored inside the house because not only are they dangerous if inhaled or consumed but very flammable and ignites at the smallest spark.

If you live in a country where Kerosene is sold at the corner shop in unmarked containers, label your container properly. Store it in a safe place where a child cannot reach or get to it.

I am alive today but it could have been fatal. Yes, consuming kerosene can kill, a slow painful death. Don't mean to scare you but it is the truth.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2012 Carolee Samuda


Kaif on July 12, 2020:

I drank kerosene accidentally about 50 ml or less what sgould i do

Kazeem on June 18, 2020:

Pls baby drink kerosene.pls what can I do

Elaine on April 19, 2020:

At a very young age, I also accidentally drank kerosene. Left with a babysitter, I got thirsty, saw the bottle, and drank its contents. My father who arrived home early, discovered my condition and took me to the Kingston Public Hospital, Jamaica. Medical professionals pumped my stomach. I was hospitalized for a time, treated, and eventually returned home. My father's quick actions was timely. Please keep kerosene and such dangerous liquids out of the reach of children period! If the child ingests this poisonous liquid seek immediate urgent medical care. Time saves lives.

Kelly on April 03, 2020:

Writting such information here without solution is totally irrelevant here ,that means if your not living in US then you will die?

fayon singh on December 23, 2019:

please can someone give me some advice please, I'm worried my baby is just 1yrs 5 months

fayon singh on December 23, 2019:

hi my baby drink kerosene today about a mouth full wat should I do i take her to the hospital and they give her antibiotics suspension would that help her, plz i need some advice

Evodia on August 31, 2019:

This morning I have received a call from my sister's son telling me that my younger brother drank paraffin,I don't know how he took but he is now in hospital

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on March 28, 2019:

Take your brother to the nearest health center.

Puok majiek on March 22, 2019:

So I had a brother who swollen kerosene , now I'm struggling to get the first aid for the patent

Jazzyt on February 28, 2019:

I’m a Jamaican, 3 weeks ago I was talking to my brother about me growing up and have no body to tell me childhood stories cause my mother die young , he told me I drink kerosene oil in a drinks bottle when I was a toddler a full bottle, I berped so my dad a a Rasta said no doctor and I’m now 45 years old

Aisha shaikh on January 20, 2019:

Thankyou very much for this post and your efforts , my father accidently drank kerosene today ( we aren't sure , it may be turpentile also) I was worried a lot , I feel little relieved by reading this post n Ur answer's to the comments

sam on September 25, 2017:

My girlfrnd drink high amount of kerosen thenn she go to the doctor nd vomiting nd take medicin will u plz tell me is she die soon or not... Plz tell me ..

saum on September 23, 2017:

i am waiting or your responce. kindly help me

soua on September 23, 2017:

my sister age 35 year accidently one sip ofkerosene oil,now about 4 hour has passed, she is feeling cramps and motion now. immediate after drinking oil she has taken some amount of ghee. what we should do now

Marooh on August 01, 2017:

I drank it accidently what i can do now

NAdz on June 17, 2015:

hey cardisa

i drunk almost 200 ml of kerosin oil mistakenky as my nephew put it in water bottle and i vomit too then someones advise me to goto hospital after 30min u reached hospital but doctor said yoo need to get admited and we cant your stomach for kerosin oil , what should i do now?

someones advise me drink milk as much as you can so im drinking milk excessive.. please guide or correct me thank you

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on March 05, 2015:

Hello Rasto, I hope he will be okay. I will keep your son in my prayers.

rasto on March 05, 2015:

Hi, I am worried .my 2 years old son has drank kerosine accidentally .......he has been rashed to hosiptal .please pray for him....

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 29, 2014:

Nirupam, you are definitely not going to die. Drink lots of fluids (especially milk) and see your doctor as soon as possible.

nirupam on November 29, 2014:

I was sleeping with my nephew..when he suddenly put some kerosene inside my mouth,may be around 30-50 ml, I immediately took milk,and water, and vomited quite a times,but even after vomited there is burning sensation in my stomach.,i am worrying what is going to happen,may I going to die. please tell me what to do?

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on November 14, 2014:

Hello Pontsho, if it's just a small amount of kerosene you baby should be fine but just to be sire take him/her to the nearest health center.

pontsho on November 13, 2014:

My toddler drink a small amount of paraffin n don't know what to do!

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on October 06, 2014:

Hello Pankaj, take your baby to the emergency room immediately.

pankaj on October 06, 2014:

my baby has drunk kerosean about 100 gm. so i want to help you that what i do .please help me

amir bahari on June 11, 2014:

Hi. I have been taking a teaspoon of kerosene in the past year about once a month. So far i feel healthy. An overdose may lead to diarrhea and just that.

Kerosene is also useful for minor cuts by applying a small quantity on the wound.

Just to share my experience.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on March 10, 2014:

Hi V, I am glad to know you are okay. Sorry that you got asthma because of it. Thanks for stopping by.

V on March 10, 2014:

I did it too when I was 7 or 8. Gulped in about 250ml before I started choking. It was managed alright., however, I suspect it may have triggered asthma in me (mild, but present)

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on October 08, 2013:

Hello Junjil Leonor, you should go to the hospital and let them check to see if you ingested the fuel. Take one of the drink with you fro them to check. If it turns out that someone is intentionally feeding you kerosene you may report them to the police.

Junjill Leonor from Malaybalay, Bukidnon on October 07, 2013:


Junjill Leonor from Malaybalay, Bukidnon on October 07, 2013:

hello please help me my problem i have experience very sick now i think somebody intentional poisoning me he put a small amount of kerosene mix in soft drink when i buy in restaurant what medicine can cure it? please help me

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on October 01, 2013:

Hello Paollag, I hope there were no damages done to your body as a result of being fed this fuel. It could have been fatal but thank God you are still with us. I hope these practices are no longer in existence and people can find better ways to cure health issues.

paollag from London, United Kingdom on October 01, 2013:

Hiya, is Paolla here, originally from Brazil living in London.

Thank you for the article, I actually started investigating this story in my family that I was accidentally fed a baby bottle filled with kerosene as a baby. Mostly to diagnose some current health issues. I literally googled 'child drinks kerosene' and I couldn't believe I found an article which not only made me understand better what happens (as details of this are very hush hush in my family) but also that it can be done with no malice.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on January 03, 2013:

Thank you for reading and commenting Vibesites. Happy New Year!

vibesites from United States on January 02, 2013:

Just keep the kerosene out of reach especially if you've got little kids who don't know the dangers of these things. Thanks for the very important "safety guide" hub. Voted up and useful. :)

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on December 01, 2012:

Hey there PDX, nice to see you. Thanks for stopping by, glad I survived as

Justin W Price from Juneau, Alaska on December 01, 2012:

Cardisa... thanks for sharing and glad you survived to share your tale and other wonderful writing with us :-)

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on May 13, 2012:

Hi Jacqui,I am so sorry to hear about your problems with your lungs. I am not sure of the long term effects. I would have to check it out. I hope you are okay otherwise. Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope I can find some information for you.

Jacqui on May 13, 2012:

I also drank kerosene as a child .I wonder about long time side effects as i now have lung problems and always cough a lot on food and drinks .Im glad your all good

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on April 09, 2012:

Hey Holle, thank God she is fine. I am sure she remembered the awful taste to this day. Thanks for stopping by.

Holle Abee from Georgia on April 09, 2012:

My middle daughter once drank kerosene as a kid, too. Useful info here. Voted up!

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on April 06, 2012:

Thanks Debbie. I do remember when I was much older that our government started a campaign about the same thing, chemicals in drink bottles. Another concern was having powdered pesticides in unlabelled plastic bags. We must be careful because children don't know the difference. Thanks for stopping by.

Debbie Roberts from Greece on April 06, 2012:

You certainly were a very lucky child, I remember back when I was growing up there were public safety adverts warning people of the dangers of storing chemicals, such as petrol and paraffin in drinking bottles. Children don't know the dangers of these chemicals and drink them innocently thinking that they are drinks.

You never know, but hopefully this hub could go towards saving a child from inadvertently drinking chemicals.

Voted up and useful.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on April 05, 2012:

Hi Eddy, glad you stopped by. Thanks, I am also very happy to be alive and ok with no long term problems.

Have a great day.

Eiddwen from Wales on April 05, 2012:

Oh my gosh that could have turned out far worse.

Thanks for sharing as some of the content this hub could turn out useful at some time or other.

Take care and enjoy your day.


Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on April 04, 2012:

Hi Jackie, I think it takes a while to work and burn so there was no damage. I can still remember the taste of it in my mouth. Just awful. I hate kerosene.

Thanks Jackie.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on April 04, 2012:

I am surprised it did not do permanent damage, it had to have burned immediately. I cannot stand to even smell that stuff! Really, it does horrible things to my lungs. We had one winter the electric went off and we had a portable K heater and I had to go in a room with just cold, couldn't take the smell so so glad you survived that!

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on April 04, 2012:

Hey Tom, I did read that and totally forgot to put that in when I wrote the hub. Thanks for the link and the added info.

That was a great

tom hellert from home on April 03, 2012:


You are really lucky kerosene is very toxic- if you had indian food or some spicy jerk chicken- you could have burnt up..ok really horrible joke I am sorry that was even bad for me (that's sayin somethin). and please note this from the Material safety Data Sheet see here for more info

MSDS importantinfo:

If swallowed, do NOT induce vomiting. If swallowed, do not induce vomiting unless directed to do so by medical personnel.

Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person. Loosen tight clothing such as a collar, tie, belt or waistband. Get medical attention immediately.

and trust me "If its not your time its not your time"...


Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on April 03, 2012:

Lucky both of us WD, we are both lucky!

WD Curry 111 from Space Coast on April 03, 2012:

Lucky me!

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on April 03, 2012:

Hey WD, me too. When it's not your time, it's just not your time.

WD Curry 111 from Space Coast on April 03, 2012:

Hey, I have done worse than that and lived. I guess you can't cheat death. When it is your time . . .

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on April 03, 2012:

Hey Sis, glad to see you! Thanks, I am okay now. I need to ask my big brother if he was the babysitter at the time it

Not doing so well today. I think you should check if any of yours, your sister or moms hubs are stolen form

Just found a few of mine there. They seem to be stealing all the newly published hubs from HP.

Tammy on April 03, 2012:

Hey sis, quite the story. I felt for you and was reminded of a story my dad once told us. He was little like you and drank some bleach. His mom freaked and took him to the hospital. Luckily enough he didn't drink enough to do much harm. The doc later cracked a joke about him having a clean system and not to worry about getting worms. My grandmother didn't see the humor in it though. I am glad to hear you are okay. This is important information for parents of children at any age. Thanks for sharing it.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on April 03, 2012:

Hey Pamela, the truth is there is no actual memory of me doing it but I do remember the taste and the smell. When I smell kerosene now I remember how I felt back then.

I am glad you little cousin got help. Thanks for stopping by.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on April 03, 2012:

WD, come to think of it I don't remember ever having

Wow, that must have been some experience. The very thought of you drinking the stuff is making my stomach upset.

I am so glad you are all right.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on April 03, 2012:

Hey Alastar, I had a best friend when we were teenagers who loved the small of the gas station, I just couldn't But Kerosene has an ugly scent. I don't get how people sniff these things.

I am glad I am all right too or I would not know my friends here on HP.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 03, 2012:

It is so fortunate that someone realized what you had done and got you medical treatment. My little cousin did the same thing but they caught him in the act and got treatment also. I am glad to know about the Kola nut and its properties. A very interesting hub.

WD Curry 111 from Space Coast on April 03, 2012:

I bet you didn't get worms after that.

I had a sign business. I poured some paint thinner (distilled kerosene) in a pint water bottle for a friend who stopped by. He took the wrong bottle when he left. Later, I was so thirsty, I turned up a water bottle with all intent of draining it.

I knew what to do. Still, for days, I was burping up fumes.

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on April 03, 2012:

Thank goodness you were all right Carolee. How about the Kola Nut antidote though. Lets hope your excellent advice here saves a child in future. Just can't understand how older ones can sniff deadly stuff like petrol, guess kerosene too.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on April 03, 2012:

Yes Lord, I am fine. I am also glad your cousin is fine too. Getting the person to the emergency is the best thing you can do to save them.

Thanks Lord.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on April 03, 2012:

Thanks Rebecca, I am so glad I made it too. That experience make me hate kerosene. If I can help it I don't use the stuff. I hope parents realise that any fuel is dangerous to have around their kids.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on April 03, 2012:

Thanks Sunnie, I can still remember that awful taste in my mouth. Every time I see or small the stuff it brings back that awful

Thanks Sunnie, so glad I am here.

Carolee Samuda (author) from Jamaica on April 03, 2012:

Hey Nell when I saw the question the other day, I had to write about it because many kids in those days drank kerosene and I was one of them. The government started to add some colour to the oil to make it sort of a bluish green. Now it has a slightly yellowish colour. I know that in it's original form it is basically colourless.

Kerosene taste and smell awful! Thanks Nell, I am glad I am still alive!

Joseph De Cross from New York on April 03, 2012:

Wow! That was scary Cardisa!

A cousin of mine did drink Kerosene, and was rushed to the hospital... he got saved indeed, but he thought he was already gone!. Hope you are fine! Thanks for sharing!


Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on April 02, 2012:

Cardisa,that is an interesting story. I'm glad you are OK, and this testimonial is the best warning for parents.Thanks for sharing!

Sunnie Day on April 02, 2012:

OH wow Cardisa...this was scary..I am glad you made it through that horrible ordeal. Thank you for all the information.



Nell Rose from England on April 02, 2012:

Hi, Cardisa, when you mentioned the kola nut to clear your system I remembered reading about that a while ago, that must have been awful! thank goodness you managed to get help quickly, otherwise we wouldn't be able to read your hubs today! phew! lol! seriously though, great info about the damage it can cause by drinking etc, nell

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