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Swallowed Petrol or Diesel? Here’s What You Need to Know

January 4, 2020

Updated April 2023

If someone accidentally swallowed petrol, diesel (or a similar chemical like kerosene), the one thing you must not do is make them VOMIT immediately!!

A lit Petrol/Keresone lantern - still used in may homes

Accidentally swallowed petrol or diesel? Don’t panic! Follow these steps to ensure your safety and health.

If one accidentally swallows a small (think mouthful) amount of petrol, it goes into the stomach where, with time, the effect wears out of your system with no serious harm.

Why not? Inducing vomiting seems like a reasonable step…

Trying to get someone to vomit is useful if you suspect they have swallowed a poisonous substance.

However, by making a person vomit petrol, there is a high risk of the liquid passing into the lungs where more SEVERE damage can happen – with just a small amount of petrol.

Therefore, if an adult has swallowed a lot of petrol, take them to a medical centre immediately.

Above all, a medical assessment is COMPULSORY for children no matter how ‘little’ the quantity of petrol they may have swallowed.

Learn how to deal with some emergency conditions in children here.

For Adults who Swallow Small Amounts of Petrol

  • Firstly, if they are fully conscious, get them to rinse out their mouth with water.
  • Next, they should carefully drink small sips of water (or juice) – NOT MILK!!
    • It’s possible that milk increases the absorption of petrol, making its effects last longer in your body.

Effects of Swallowing Petrol

Drinking petrol can cause several problems, including vomiting, stomach pain or dizziness.

Other quite severe symptoms include:

  • permanent brain damage,
  • breathing difficulty and
  • visual loss.

After ingesting petrol, you may find yourself belching petrol fumes all day or even longer.

However, as long as you do not get any in your lungs, the small amount of petrol you swallow may be safely excreted from your stomach.

A person who’s swallowed petrol may vomit naturally – help them lean forward or turn the head to the side to avoid choking and getting the petrol in the lungs.

Other Don’ts to Observe after Swallowing Petrol

  • Firstly, avoid fizzy or carbonated drinks as they make belching worse
  • Next, avoid smoking – petrol is highly flammable
  • And – avoid drinking alcohol for at least 24 hours.

Seek URGENT medical attention if large quantities have been swallowed.

Moreover, remember that complications are more likely to arise with delays in seeking treatment.

Now, learn what to do with other emergencies that could happen at home.

More Reading

Edited by AskAwayHealth Team


All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners on a wide range of healthcare conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality healthcare.

The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified healthcare practitioner.
To discuss your condition, please contact a health practitioner or reach us directly.

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1 Comment

  • Robyn Ellerman

    June 16, 2023 11:06 pm

    You didn’t explain what happens when petrol goes to lung after injesting, gasping for air. It must get into lung. This happened to my husband, he is now breathless and strong pain when he moves . What can be done?

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