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Seasonal Poisoning Hazards: Summer

24-Hour Poison Control Center Hotline

Toll free 1-800-222-1222

Insect Bites and Stings

Many insects bite or sting, but only a few are dangerous to humans. These include:

  • Brown Recluse Spider
    These are yellow-orange to brown with a violin-shaped marking on the body. Brown recluse spiders hide in closets, over door frames, in basements and in corners.
  • Black Widow Spider
    These have a shiny black body with a red hourglass on the underside. Black widow spiders prefer dark, quiet places like garages, meter boxes or furniture.

Report brown recluse or black widow bites to the Poison Control Center immediately.

If an insect bites or stings you, apply one of these to soothe itching:

  • Calamine lotion
  • Baking soda
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Topical anesthetics (over-the-counter creams that reduce pain and itching)

Tips to avoid insect bites when you’re outdoors:

  • Keep food covered, and clean up spills immediately. Don’t allow food to spoil in picnic areas.
  • Wear light-colored clothing that fits snugly at the wrists and ankles.
  • Cover strollers with mosquito netting.
  • Stay away from pools of standing water.
  • Use insect repellent

Tips for safely using insect repellent:

  • Use insect repellents sparingly. They are safest if rubbed or sprayed on clothing.
  • Do not use insect repellent with DEET on children under the age of two months. Don't apply insect repellent to children's hands.

  • Don't apply insect repellent under clothing or to broken or irritated skin. Be sure to wash your hands after applying insect repellent.

Mushrooms

  • Only an expert can tell a safe mushroom from a poisonous mushroom.
  • Never eat a mushroom unless it has been positively identified and verified as edible.
  • Don’t assume a mushroom is safe to eat because animals eat it or because of the area where it grows. Edible and poisonous mushrooms can be found growing side by side in the same area.
  • Mushrooms in parks, home lawns and near water dumps may be contaminated with pesticides or other poisons.
  • Cooking does not make a mushroom safe to eat.
  • Some mushrooms can cause poisoning and even death.
  • ALL wild mushrooms ingested by children should be considered potentially dangerous. If your child eats a wild mushroom, contact the Poison Control Center immediately.
  • If a child needs to go to the hospital, take a sample of the mushroom with you for identification and analysis. Save specimens in the refrigerator; do not freeze. Place the mushroom in a paper bag, not a plastic bag.

Petroleum products

Petroleum products include gasoline, kerosene, motor oils, paint thinners, furniture polishes and mineral oils. 

  • Exposures to petroleum products increase as the temperature rises.
  • Once ingested, these products can get into the lungs, causing coughing, difficulty breathing and other respiratory problems. Sometimes they will also cause vomiting and drowsiness.
  • Petroleum products are extremely dangerous. If someone ingests a petroleum product, call the Poison Control Center immediately before doing anything else. DO NOT try to force the person to vomit.