The Summer Months Bring Fun and Adventure But They Can Also Bring Potential Hazards

Thursday, July 1, 2010 General News
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SAN FRANCISCO, July 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As Californians head outdoors to enjoy the summer sun they can be exposed

to potential dangers as well.  The California Poison Control System (CPCS) offers tips for staying safe and happy this season.  CPCS ( is available at 1-800-222-1222, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for immediate expert help and
information in case of exposure to summer hazards.

"With school out and the sun shining Californians are heading outside," said Richard Geller, MD, Executive Medical Director for the CPCS.  "With a few precautions and a little common sense, we can ensure that they have fun and don't end up in the emergency room."


Fireworks can cause severe burns and can ignite brush fires.  Fireworks should only be used by adults with strict adherence to the directions, and in a location where fireworks are legal to use.


Bites and stings from insects are usually more bothersome than dangerous but mosquitoes may carry West Nile Virus and ticks can carry Lyme disease.  The best way to prevent insect bites is to use repellent containing DEET on exposed skin.   Bee, wasp and yellow jacket stings can also be dangerous especially if you are allergic.  If you see a bee swarm the best action is to run as fast you can, cover your face and close your mouth, and try to find someplace dark and cold to hide.   Spiders are dangerous too and, although tarantulas are often thought to be poisonous, they generally are not.  More dangerous is the black widow spider bite, which can cause severe pain.  


Rattlesnakes also enjoy warm weather.  Snakes live all over California and while most are not poisonous, the rattlesnake is very dangerous.   A rattlesnake bite can produce swelling and bruising and can be fatal, especially in children and pets. To protect against rattlesnake bites, the CPCS suggests that Californians wear boots or covered footwear when walking through wild areas; stay on trails when hiking; and do not reach into holes or bushes.  Never attempt to pick up a rattlesnake.


Be aware of what grows around your neighborhood or the area that you may be visiting this summer.  Cases of Poison Oak can be severe enough to require medical attention.  A good rule to go by is "leaves of three, let it be".  Also, if ingested, wild mushrooms can cause fatal liver damage and should be avoided completely.


The single biggest hazard as we head outdoors to enjoy the sunshine is the sun itself as it can cause long term damage including cancer.  For protection, Californians of all ages and skin types should wear hats and sunscreen and drink plenty of fluids.


As families head outdoors for picnics and barbeques, careful food preparation and storage is critical.  Food should stay on ice as much as possible, and if not, food should be kept in the shade or under an umbrella and should not be out of the ice for more than two hours.

If you or your child encounters any of these summer hazards, try to stay calm and remember that the California Poison Control System at 1-800-222-1222 has trained and certified pharmacists, nurses and Poison Information Providers to quickly help you 24/7.  The service is free, confidential and interpreters are always available.

To help provide the most up-to-date poison prevention information, the CPCS launched an innovative bilingual text messaging service that provides consumers with tips, facts and news about accidental poisoning prevention in both English and Spanish.  Consumers who opt-in to the service by texting the word TIPS or PUNTOS for Spanish to 69866 will receive weekly poison prevention tips on their cell phone.  

The CPCS has four divisions located at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, San Francisco General Hospital in San Francisco, Children's Hospital Central California in Fresno/Madera and the UC San Diego Medical Center in San Diego.  The CPCS is part of the University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy and responsible to the California Emergency Medical Services Authority.

SOURCE California Poison Control System

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