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Summer brings greater chance of poisoning

Information provided by Joan McVoy, RN, CSPI, of The Poison Center, Children's Hospital, Omaha.

The arrival of spring and summer months brings an increase in the incidence of poisoning in children. The following are some of the more frequent calls we get this time of year.

Insect Repellents
Avoid using insect repellents with high concentrations of DEET in children. Concentrations can vary from < (less than) 5 percent to 100 percent. Because of West Nile Virus concerns, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has revised its guidelines to recommend using an insect repellent with no more than 10 percent DEET. Parents should apply repellent to their own hands and then rub on their child's skin, making sure they wash their hands when finished. Avoid applying to hands and fingers of small children which may be put into mouths or rubbed into the eyes. DEET is not recommended for use on children under 2 months of age. For more information on using DEET on children, see the AAP web site at: Summer Hazards increase chances of poisoning


Pesticides
Pesticides can be extremely toxic when used improperly. Safety measures must be followed in the storage, application and disposal of pesticides and their containers.

  • Storage: Always store pesticides in their original containers with a complete label. Keep in a locked cabinet. Never store in empty food containers that may be mistaken for food.
  • Application: Read the instructions for proper usage. Remove jewelry and leather clothing before using pesticides. These items cannot be decontaminated adequately. Wear clothing that covers you completely and can be washed after use. Keep children, pets, food and eating utensils away from areas where pesticides have been sprayed for a minimum of 24 hours.
  • Disposal: Wrap containers in several sheets of newspaper, secure tightly and place in covered trash receptacle.

Plants and Mushrooms
Many outdoor and indoor plants are poisonous. This includes the berries on many plants. Know the names of your plants to ensure proper identification. All yard mushrooms are considered poisonous unless positively identified otherwise by a trained mycologist.

Solvents used in Spring Cleaning
Cleaning products can be poisonous so follow label instructions and use them carefully. When using these products be sure to have good ventilation and don't leave cleaning supplies within reach of children.

Hydrocarbons
With warm weather, hydrocarbons in the form of gasoline, kerosene and charcoal lighter fluid make their appearance. Every year children are poisoned when gasoline or motor oil are placed in pop bottles. Store all of these products in their original containers. Oil based paints, paint thinners and turpentine can also be harmful, even if ingested in small amounts.

Stings
Don't let children play in places where bees and wasps nest. Try to avoid playing in fields of clover or wildflowers, and around blooming fruit trees. Avoid scented cosmetics and soaps, bright colored and flowery printed clothing, and shiny jewelry that attract stinging insects. Light colors such as white, green, tan and khaki are best. Also keep food covered until the moment of disposal.

For more information, call The Poison Center at Children's Hospital at 1-800-222-1222 or if in the Omaha area call 955-5555. The Poison Center has many free materials such as coloring books and teacher packets with telephone stickers. They also have a variety of videos for different age groups.

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