Keep your family safe from poisons this summer


Summer poisonings happen so fast.  With children home, beach days, picnics and more time outside, the Florida Poison Information Center Network is extra busy this time of year.  Summer toxins don’t have to ruin your family time in the sun if you take proper precautions.

Snake bites, medication mistakes and food and alcohol poisoning are all common during the summer season.  With school out and children in new environments like day care, summer camp or relatives’ homes, there are new dangers for unintentional poisonings. If you spend time on the front-end taking precautions, talking to your children and working with their caregivers, you can save yourself money, time and worry.

If you have children spending time in your home, get down on their eye level and complete an inspection.  Remember, children are curious and like to climb. It’s important to check that potential toxins are locked away from curious hands.

Poisonings also impact our furry friends so make sure to follow the same safety procedures to protect your pets.

“It is a wonderful time of year to spend time outdoors and enjoy the beach, pool and parks,” said Florida Poison Information Center – Jacksonville Director Dawn Sollee. “Let’s make sure we keep our families safe by preventing potential poisonings. However, if poisoning does occur, health care providers at the poison center are here to help, toll free, seven days a week at 1-800-222-1222.”

12 important tips

  • Program the poison helpline into your cell phone. Fast, free confidential help is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-222-1222.
  • Snake bites: Florida is home to 44 species of snakes, six of which are venomous. Snakes are active all year but are most active from April to September. If bitten, call poison control immediately. Do not ice the bite or try to suck the venom out.
  • Food poisoning: Cookouts, picnics and beach days call for extra precautions. Don’t allow refrigerated food to get above 40 degrees, and do not let food sit at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Lawn and garden chemicals: Follow all instructions. Leave products in their original containers. Keep all containers locked up and out of sight and out of reach of children.
  • Plants: Know the names of all the plants in your yard. If you come into contact with poison ivy, oak or sumac, rinse with running water for at least five minutes.
  • Insect bites: While most insect bites and stings are painful, they can be treated at home. Some can be lethal, so all bites and stings need your attention. If you have extreme swelling, pus or other abnormal reactions, call poison control immediately.
  • Medication: With children spending more time at home, the chance of them getting into things increases. Make sure all medicine (prescription and nonprescription), supplements and vitamins are locked up and away.
  • Carbon monoxide: Camping stoves, grills and generators all pose a potential danger. Make sure all are in well-ventilated areas at least 20 feet from your home.
  • Swimming pool chemicals: Inhaling chlorine products can irritate the respiratory system. Store all pool chemicals in a secure place out of reach of children.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol can be a deadly poison for children due to their size. Do not leave alcoholic beverages, facial cleaners or mouthwash where children can reach them.
  • Mushrooms: Eating even a few bites of a poisonous mushroom can cause liver damage that can kill you. Do not eat mushrooms growing in the wild.
  • Marine stings: Marine stings can cause life-threatening allergic reactions. Call 911 if you have trouble breathing, feel faint or have chest pain. All other marine stings can be treated at home after calling 1-800-222-1222.

— Mike McCormick, Florida Poison Information Center Network – Jacksonville