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Seasonal Poisoning Hazards: Spring

The spring season presents its own set of poisoning risks and hazards. Take note of these hazards below and keep your children, pets and loved ones safe.

Household items: cleaning agents, pesticides, gardening supplies and chemicals

Common household cleaning products are a major cause of accidental poisoning in children. Children are often attracted to bright colors, interesting containers and the fruity scent of household products. Follow these tips to stay safe.

  • Keep all cleaning products out of the reach of children.
  • Read and follow the instructions on labels carefully.
  • Always store products in original containers.
  • Never mix cleaning products as this could product toxic gases.
  • Open windows and doors to ventilate the area and provide airflow.
  • Wear protective gear, as many products could irritate or burn the skin, eyes and throat.

Lawn and garden

April showers bring May flowers – and lawn and garden maintenance. When it comes to fertilizers, pesticides, plants, mushrooms and other chemicals, follow these tips to stay safe.

  • Read and follow all product instructions.
  • Wear protective clothing and any recommended equipment.
  • Many chemicals used to control insects, rodents and weeds are toxic to humans and pets. Avoid using products that leave powder or pellets in areas where children or pets can get into them.
  • Children, pets and toys should be kept out of the area when insecticides and other garden chemicals are being sprayed.
  • Teach children to never put mushrooms, berries or any part of a plant in their mouth.
  • Know the names of the flowers and plants growing in your yard.
  • Only experts can tell poisonous mushrooms from safe mushrooms.

Food poisoning

Spring weather brings picnics and barbecues, which require proper food storage and handling. When bacteria, parasites or viruses contaminate food, food poisoning can occur.

  • Food poisoning symptoms include vomiting and/or diarrhea. These usually occur 1-12 hours after eating.
  • In the case of food poisoning, drink liquids to prevent dehydration.
  • Mild cases of food poisoning may be managed at home, but more severe cases require medical attention.

Tips to prevent food poisoning

Place frozen foods in the freezer and refrigerated foods in the refrigerator as soon as possible after shopping.

  • Set your refrigerator at 40ºF, the freezer at 0ºF. If you don’t have a thermometer, keep your refrigerator as cold as possible without freezing your milk or lettuce.
  • Thaw and marinate foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Don’t reuse marinade that has come in contact with raw meat.
  • Don’t buy canned goods that are bulging, dented or rusted.
  • Refrigerate food within 2 hours of cooking.
  • When picnicking, keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
  • Wash hands in hot, soapy water before, and frequently during, food preparation.
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Use separate plates, utensils and cutting boards for raw and cooked foods to avoid contamination.
  • Wash cutting boards and utensils in hot, soapy water or a 10% bleach solution after use.
  • Thoroughly cook all meats, poultry and seafood. When in doubt, use a meat thermometer to check internal temperatures.
    • Steaks, roasts, chops of beef, pork, lamb, veal (then let rest 3 minutes before serving): 145°F
    • Fish with fins: 145°F
    • Fresh ham (raw): 145°F
    • Ground meats like beef and pork: 160°F
    • Egg dishes like frittata and quiche: 160°F
    • All poultry, including ground chicken and turkey: 165°F
    • Leftovers and casseroles: 165°F

Easter egg dyes

  • When buying materials for dyeing eggs, choose those labeled NON-TOXIC.
  • Children often mistake the colored tablets for candy. Always supervise children when dyeing eggs.

Spring hazards for pets

It’s important to keep in mind that spring brings potential hazards for our furry friends! Some of the top dangers include:

  • Chocolate
  • Plastic Easter grass
  • Plants
  • Fertilizers and herbicides

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has more information on these hazards.

24-hour Poison Control Center hotline: 1-800-222-1222

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