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Poison Prevention Tips for Summer

Schools have closed and summer vacations have begun.

People who plan to take trips, camp, spend time in back yards, picnic or go to concerts in the park should be aware of some of the poison hazards outdoors and how to protect themselves.

Bites and Stings

  • Most people who are stung by an insect will experience redness, itching, swelling and some pain around the sting site. In some cases, stings can cause allergic reactions or carry diseases.
  • If you are stung by a bee or wasp, and a stinger is present, remove it by scraping across the sting with a broad, firm and flat object like a credit card or stiff cardboard. Do not pinch or squeeze the stinger because this can squeeze more venom into the skin. Wash the area with soap and water and call the Missouri Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for further instructions.
  • Wear clothing that will cover as much exposed skin as possible to protect yourself from insect bites and stings when outdoors. While insect repellents and pesticides can protect you from pests such as bees, wasps, mosquitoes and ants, these products also can be a source of poisoning if used improperly.
  • Always follow the label directions carefully and wash your hands after using insect repellents and pesticides, to avoid getting them into the eyes or mouth.

Snake Bites

If a snake bites you or someone you know, wash the bite site thoroughly and call the Missouri Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 right away. The specially trained nurses and pharmacists at the poison center will help you determine if the snake is venomous. They will tell you exactly what to do and what to watch for. Read more about stinging insects, spiders, and snakes here.

Spider Bites

Most spider and tick bites do not cause harm. There are a few spiders that can cause illness in some people. Two common spiders that can harm you are the female black widow and the brown recluse. A bite from one of these spiders may cause serious problems in a child, a senior, or a person in poor health. If you or someone else has been bitten by a spider, call the Missouri Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for additional treatment information.

Swimming Pool

Swimming pool chemicals are necessary to keep pools free of bacteria, but they can also be dangerous if not handled correctly. The calls to the poison center are usually about pool chemicals getting on the skin, in the eyes, or inhaling the gases produced by the chemicals. Follow these safety tips to prevent exposures:

  • Open pool chemicals in a well-ventilated area, preferably outside. Gases that are irritating to the eyes, nose and lungs can build up in the container after winter storage.
  • Keep products dry. When pool chemicals come in contact with even a small amount of water, toxic gasses can be released.
  • Do not store chemicals on any surface that could possibly get wet. Keep containers of chemicals away from any drains or water sources such as faucets or pipes. It is also important to close the containers completely.
  • Be sure to store chemicals out of reach and sight of children and lock them up.

Sunscreen and Insect Repellant

Apply cautiously around eyes and mouth. Use separate products because sunscreens need to be applied more frequently than insect repellants. Some insect repellents can harm children if used improperly or in large amounts. Make sure to read the label for specific application instructions. Here are some safety tips:

Here are some safety tips:

  • Do not allow children to apply repellent to themselves. When using repellent on a child, put a little on your own hands, then rub them on your child.
  • Do not apply to the hands of young children and avoid the eyes and mouth.
  • Do not apply on cuts or irritated skin.
  • Do not over-apply the product.
  • Do not use underneath clothing (applying to the outside of clothing is safe).
  • After returning indoors, wash exposed skin with soap and water.
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