Forgotten dangers loom

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ah, spring!

Warm weather has been slow in coming this year, arriving in fits and starts between the recent rains.

When it arrives in earnest, however, we're sure to hit the outdoors like hungry duck on a june-bug.

As we head outdoors, however, we're facing dangers we may have forgotten since last summer.

As the Nebraska Regional Poison Center points out, call about carbon monoxide and cough and cold medicines have been replaced by calls about gasoline, ant killer fertilizers, spring cleaning chemicals and critters that bite and sting.

When you leave the relative safety of your home, keep safety foremost in your mind. Here are a few pointers:

Never mix cleaning products, and always work in a well-ventilated area when using them. Mixing certain cleaning chemicals can create toxic gases that can cause coughing, burning of the eyes, nose and throat and difficulty breathing.

Fertilizers can irritate the skin. After using them, stay off the grass until the product has been watered in. Pesticides are even more dangerous, and you should take careful precautions when using or applying. Wear protective clothing and do not apply on a windy day. Always store lawn chemicals in the original containers with labels that list ingredients, directions for use and first-aid steps in case of an accidental poisoning.

Use caution when choosing plants. Some plants, trees and flowers can be harmful. Keep all house plants out of children's reach and teach them never to put mushrooms, berries or any part of a plant in their mouth. Know the names of the plants in your house and yard before you have an exposure. The poison center can help you with this by providing a brochure with information about toxic plants.

Call the Poison Center if you are stung by a bee or bitten by a spider or snake. The nurses answering your call will provide the information that you need.

When using ant killer, carefully read the label and avoid products that contain arsenic. Be sure to keep it out of the reach of children.

For more information, including a free brochure with information on plants, call the Nebraska Regional Poison Center by calling (800) 222-1222 toll free. The center is sponsored by the Nebraska Medical Center and University of Nebraska Medical Center.

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