Alcohol Poisoning: Learn the signs and know what to do

If you are concerned about a person’s well-being or you’re unsure of what to do, call University Police (815) 836-5911.

Alcohol poisoning is a serious — and sometimes deadly — consequence of drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. Drinking too much too quickly can affect your breathing, heart rate, body temperature and gag reflex and potentially lead to coma and death.

Signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning:

  • Vomiting while passed out, not waking up after vomiting, or incoherent while vomiting.
  • Cannot wake the person even with loud shouting or by pinching the arm.
  • Breathing is slow or irregular. Slow breathing (fewer than eight breaths per minute). Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths.
  • Cold, clammy (i.e., cool but sweaty), pale or bluish skin.

What to do:

  • Call University Police @ (815) 836-5911, if any of the above signs are present. Don't try to guess the level of drunkenness.
  • Do not wait for all symptoms to be present.
  • Stay with the person until help arrives.
  • Turn the person on his/her side to prevent choking in the event the person vomits.
  • Cooperate with emergency medical personnel. Give them as much information as possible, including any drugs or medications taken.

What NOT to do:

  • Do not hesitate to call 911. The person's life is in danger. Better to be safe than sorry.
  • Do not let the person "sleep it off” or “walk it off”.
  • Do not leave the person alone.
  • Do not leave the person lying on his/her back.
  • Do not try to give the person anything to eat or drink.
  • Do not put the person in a cold shower.

Immunity for Students Seeking Assistance during Emergencies

The health, safety, and welfare of our students and community are paramount. As such, all Lewis students are expected to alert appropriate officials in the event of any health or safety emergency - specifically including those involving the abuse of alcohol or drugs - even if violations of the University Behavioral Standards may have occurred in connection with such an emergency.

Because the University understands that fear of possible disciplinary actions may deter certain requests for emergency assistance, the University has adopted the following policy to alleviate such concerns and promote responsible action on the part of students. In a situation involving imminent threat or danger to the health or safety of any individual(s), students are generally expected (1) to contact emergency officials by calling University Police at extension 5911 or (815) 836-5911 to report the incident, (2) to remain with the individual(s) needing emergency treatment and cooperate with emergency officials, so long as it is safe to do so, and (3) to meet with appropriate University officials after the incident and cooperate with any University investigation.

 If students follow this procedure, no formal University judicial actions or sanctions will be imposed for alcohol or drug infractions. The incident will be documented, and educational, community, and health interventions - as well as contact with a student’s parents or family - may be required as a condition of deferring disciplinary actions or sanctions. The protocol does not protect repeated, flagrant, or serious violations of University Behavioral Standards (including physical or sexual assault, violence, hazing, harassment, theft, or vandalism or instances where multiple individuals need medical attention), nor does it preclude or prevent action by police or other legal authorities. Failure of students to take responsible actions in an emergency situation where action is clearly warranted, however, may void all protections under this provision and may lead to further judicial action when such failure to act otherwise constitutes a violation of University Behavioral Standards.

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