Emergencies can happen, even to the most prepared person. When dealing with essential oils, there are a few things to keep in mind that can make your experience a bit safer. First, let’s discuss general tips that you should consider anytime you’re handling essential oils.
Always work in a clean, well-lit area.
Leave original labels on the bottles. Plant Therapy takes the extra step of putting on a top label as well. This is so helpful in grabbing the right oil! However, if your bottles don’t have this handy label, you can buy blank ones and label them yourself!
Always wash hands thoroughly before AND after your blending session.
Consider wearing goggles & gloves while blending.
If using a new oil for the first time, it’s wise to use a “patch test”* before proceeding.
Understand the oils you’re working with! Do they have cautions or maximum dilutions to be aware of? Are there contraindications with medication you may be taking?
Be prepared! Know what steps you should take to deal with any emergency situation that could arise.
*A patch test can be used to see if an individual has a sensitivity to an essential oil. To do so, add a single drop of essential oil to 1 teaspoon of carrier. Apply this mix to the inside of the elbow and cover with a small bandage – checking after 24 hours to see if a reaction occurred. If any irritation or redness/itchiness occurs, wash the area well with warm, soapy water. Then avoid that particular oil in recipes so there are no issues later.
Keep the number for poison control handy with essential oil supplies, as well as a listing for my eye doctor, primary care provider, and the local ER. This way I don’t have to fumble around in the event of an emergency.
Now that we have the basics down, we’ll check out a few commonly asked questions we see often and hints for how to deal with those emergency situations!
Frequently Asked Questions
“My child (friend, neighbor, etc.) has accidentally ingested a quantity of essential oil, what action should I take?”
It’s important to keep your essential oils in a place where children cannot access them and be sure that your family & friends are aware they are not intended to be consumed. However, if this occurs, please follow these steps in case of an emergency:
DO NOT induce vomiting.
If the person is conscious, rinse the mouth with large amounts of cool water, spitting after rinsing. Then call poison control.
If the person is unconscious or not breathing, roll them onto their side (this is called the Rescue position) and immediately call your closest hospital. If the person is having a convulsion (seizure), do NOT place anything in their mouth or touch them. Move furniture or other objects away from them so they won’t hurt themselves. Be ready to give information such as the type of oil, amount consumed, when did the event occur, and any treatment you have provided to EMS responders.
“My child (spouse, friend, etc.) accidentally got essential oil on their skin with no carrier (or neat) … what steps should I take to clean it up?”
This is a fairly common occurrence but not something to be frantic about. There are a few essential oils that do carry cautions with them as far as topical use is concerned – these should be treated with care, and if spilled should be cleaned up immediately to prevent serious skin irritations or burns. Take the following steps to reduce irritation:
Anytime you accidentally find yourself with some essential oil on your skin, it’s best to use soap and water to clean up.
If the skin continues to be red or irritated, then apply a thin layer of Coconut Oil or Aloe Jelly to the area.
Consider a topical or oral anti-histamine if itching persists, and always consult your doctor if necessary.
“I’ve accidentally gotten essential oil into my eye.”
Either you’ve touched your eye after handling the oil, or it simply splashed or got a bit too close to your eye. In any case, it’s important to follow this advice:
Flush eye continuously with cool water for at least 15-20 minutes. You can use a faucet, cup, or another device to move water across the eye area.
Swiping the CLOSED eye with a clean cloth that has been soaked in a fatty oil, like Coconut Oil can be helpful to reduce irritation.
Consult with a medical professional (i.e. your eye doctor) to determine if you need to be evaluated in order to ensure all is well.
“Oh no, I’ve spilled my essential oil… Now, what do I do?”
It’s always best to air out the space in question by opening up doors or windows. Even just cracking a window can help air out the space; also consider using fans to help exhaust fumes. Follow these steps to clean up a spill:
When cleaning up spills, wear gloves. Using paper towels or sweeping with a hand broom to pick up shards of glass is helpful.
Once you have the larger pieces cleaned up, sprinkle baking soda or kitty litter on the rest and allow it to absorb the oil. Then sweep it into a dustpan and dispose of it in the trash.
Remove the trash bag from the house to an outside receptacle.
Finally, wash hands very well with soap and water. If needed, throw soiled clothing or area rugs into the wash with a bit of extra detergent, and an extra rinse as well, to get them clean.
Purchon, N., Cantele, L., & Bordian, T. (n.d.). The complete aromatherapy & essential oils handbook for everyday wellness.
Tisserand, R., & Young, R. (2014). Essential oil safety a guide for health care professionals. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, Elsevier.
National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy www.naha.org