Tips for Preventing Summer Poisons | health and fitness
As the weather and seasons change, the types of calls to the Nebraska Regional Poison Control Center also change. During the summer months, poison control centers handle more calls about bites, stings, plants and pesticides than at other times of the year.
Bites and stings: Warm weather, brightly colored clothing, and backyard picnics often attract flying insects like bees and wasps. Remove the stinger with a light scraping motion using a credit card or fingernail. Don’t squeeze or pull the stinger or you’ll release more venom. Clean with soap and water. Apply ice packs for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Also, watch for signs of a sudden allergic reaction like itching, wheezing, fainting, sweating, confusion, or developing a rash. Contact a doctor or go to the nearest emergency department at the first sign of these symptoms, which could be life-threatening. Delayed reactions may occur. Call your doctor if the person bitten experiences fever, discomfort, hives, headache, or itching 10 to 14 days after the bite. For snakebites from a venomous species like rattlesnakes, the most important thing you can do is call 9-1-1.
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Insect repellents: Use only insect repellents intended for use on the skin. Avoid over-application. The long word for DEET is N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide. Most labels will have the word chemical listed. Use concentrations less than 20% DEET. A higher concentration does not mean that the product will work better, but rather that it will be effective for a longer period of time. Use repellents only outdoors and wash skin with soap and water when you come indoors. Picaridin is an odorless synthetic ingredient found in some insect repellents and is a safe alternative to use on children. Follow all label directions.
Hydrocarbons: This category may include gasoline, kerosene, lighter fluids and torch fuels. Since hydrocarbons are slippery and oily, the risk of ingestion is that they can “slip” into the lungs and cause chemical pneumonia. Store all these products in their original containers and out of reach of small hands.
Plant and mushroom poisonings: The initial danger is suffocation. Remove any morsel from mouth, but do not induce vomiting. Teach children never to put any part of a plant, including berries, in their mouths. A tip for houseplants is to write the name of each plant you have on a clean stick and put it in the ground. If ingested, you will know the name of the plant. This is especially useful if someone else is caring for the child and ingestion occurs. Mushrooms can look very interesting and attractive to young children. There are several varieties. Often the typical garden mushroom is a stomach irritant.