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Keep Your Summer Parties Safe!

Fire up the grill and invite your friends over – it’s time for summer parties! Whether you have an impressive fireworks display, or just a simple BBQ, the Missouri Poison Center can help you keep your parties safe.


Summer parties can be accompanied by dangers related to fireworks. In addition to burns and injuries to the eyes or limbs, poisonings may also result from fireworks. Adults may not consider fireworks appetizing, but some children find them appealing enough to chew or swallow.

fireworks-1285271_1280Most fireworks, such as firecrackers, roll caps and Roman candles, are relatively low in toxicity. Others, like sparklers, are completely nontoxic. The possibility of toxicity from fireworks is very minimal because of the low concentrations of most of the chemicals, however it can happen. To learn more about fireworks, read our Trending Topics article about Fourth of July Toxins.


The Missouri Poison Center also receives many calls around this time of year about children consuming glow-in-the-dark toys, such as glow worms, snakes, necklaces, or glow sticks. These soft plastic tubes come in various sizes and fluorescent colors. The ingredients are considered relatively nontoxic, and the small amount of fluid in each tube adds to its safety. Glow sticks contain dibutyl phthalate which can cause a stinging and burning sensation if splashed in the eye and can be irritating to the skin. For advice on what to do if you child breaks open a glow stick, click here.


oil-lampFor your backyard party, you might be using lighter fluid for the grill and putting out the tiki torches to create a fun ambiance. These products are called hydrocarbons and can cause problems if they are accidentally ingested. The problem with lamp oil, tiki torch fuel, lighter fluid, and gasoline is their remarkable ability to “go down the wrong way” if someone tries to swallow some. A child may take a sip from a container that’s left setting out, thinking the brightly colored oil is juice. The liquid enters the lungs instead of the stomach, causing them to cough and choke. Once in the lungs, it seems to spread everywhere in them at once.  The delicate lung tissue reacts to the chemical and develops a chemical pneumonia.  It is as dangerous, maybe more dangerous, than the kind of pneumonia caused by germs.

To keep your friends and family safe, store all of these products up and out-of-sight right away after use. For more information, check out our Trending Topics article about Garage Hazards.


Speaking of firing up the grill, how do you keep your friends and family safe from food poisoning? Follow these helpful tips:

Food PoisoningCLEAN

  • Wash your hands, kitchen surfaces, utensils, and cutting boards frequently, especially after handling or preparing uncooked food and before touching or eating other foods. Wash produce but not eggs, meat, or poultry, which can spread harmful bacteria.
  • Use the microwave, cold water, or the refrigerator method to defrost your frozen meat or poultry. Do not thaw or marinate these items on the counter, and be sure to cook them immediately after thawing.


  • Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods in your grocery bags, in the refrigerator, and while prepping.


  • The bacteria that cause food poisoning multiply quickest in the ‘Danger Zone,’ which is between 40˚ and 140˚ Fahrenheit. In general, it’s best to keep hot food hot, and cold food cold.
  • Use a food thermometer to check if meat is fully cooked and heated high enough to kill harmful bacteria.


  • Refrigerate leftovers promptly – within two hours – at 40° F or below to help reduce the risk of bacterial growth.
  • Prevent cross-contamination by completely and securely covering foods in the refrigerator.
  • Consume or freeze leftovers within 3-4 days.


There are a lot of chemicals out there to help keep the bugs away and your landscaping looking great for your party. The products sold to homeowners are generally harmless to people. Contact with them might cause a light rash, allergic reaction, or eye irritation.

Insect killers for the home setting are more of a “mixed bag.” The most common type are called “pyrethroids” and they were first discovered in the chrysanthemum flower. If these get on the skin, strange sensations like a blend of numbness and tingling can occur. This can be treated with gentle washing, and then squeezing the liquid inside of a Vitamin E capsule onto the skin and rubbing it in. Some other types of insecticides are more toxic to pets and people. For more information about these products, click here. As with all chemicals, follow the directions on the label, store properly, and always keep them in the original container!

For any questions about backyard party safety, call the Missouri Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.  The poison center is open all day, every day for poisoning emergencies and questions.

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