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Four Seasons 4 - Poisoning Hazards for Summer

Four Seasons 4 - Poisoning Hazards for Summer

Summertime means warm weather, school holidays, parties and events. These changes in your household routine can lead to an increase in poison hazards for children. Enjoy the weather, but remember to stay safe this summer by taking a few extra precautions.

Insects
Swimming and Spa Pool Chemicals
At the Beach
Camping and Bushwalks
BBQs, Parties and Events
In the Sunshine

Insects

Bees, wasps, ants, and spiders become more active in summer. Spiders like to hide in firewood piles, under rocks/debris, and other dark places.

  • Children should avoid playing in fields where there are lots of blooming flowers or clover. Don't let children play near bees and wasps nests as, if disturbed, hundreds of angry insects will protect their home causing large numbers of stings.
  • If possible, avoid bright coloured clothing, scented cosmetics, and shiny jewellery that attract stinging insects. Keep food (especially sweet food) covered so as not to attract insects.
  • Always be careful when moving firewood or putting your hands into dark places.

Insect repellents are invaluable to ward off annoying insects. The most common ingredient in repellents is diethyltoluamide (DEET).

  • DEET is safe to use, as long as the label is read carefully and the manufacturers' instructions and precautions are followed.
  • Try to use insects repellents that contain 10% or less of DEET, use products sparingly and only on intact skin. If possible wear long pants and shirts to minimise the skin exposed to the repellent.
  • Do not apply to broken skin, under clothing, or on children under 2 years. Avoid applying to childrens hands as they can then place their hands in their mouths or eyes.

Swimming and Spa Pool Chemicals

Swimming pools are a great way to cool off in the summer but many chemicals used to treat the water can be dangerous causing burns and breathing difficulties.

  • Always follow the manufacturers instructions when using swimming pool chemicals. Be careful when opening containers. Always keep chemicals in their original containers and stored locked up and out of reach of children.

At the Beach

Cant afford a swimming pool? The beach is great fun but also presents some hazards. Venomous marine animals such as jellyfish, stingrays, or sea anemones can lead to injuries or stings including puncture wounds, pain, and can even make a person seriously ill.

  • First aid for jellyfish and fish stings includes using sea water to wash the area and then soaking the area in warm water to relieve pain. Do not rub the wound, or use alcohol, meths, vinegar, ammonia, or urine. These are not useful for any sting in New Zealand and may make the wound more painful.

Camping and Bushwalks

Camping and bushwalks are fun and educational for the whole family but some hikes may have dangerous plants along the way. Skin contact with stinging nettle or Rhus trees can lead to intense pain, redness, itching and inflammation. Extensive contact can lead to vomiting, loss of co-ordination, respiratory difficulties, or even paralysis.

  • While outdoors it is a good idea to wear long sleeves and pants. Learn to recognise dangerous plants and avoid them. Do not collect unknown wild plants or mushrooms for food.

BBQs, Parties and Events

Outdoor barbecues are a popular summer activity for New Zealanders. Alcohol and tobacco poisoning is common in children, as they are curious and will ingest drinks and cigarettes left lying round. This incidence increases during the party season.

  • Before using a BBQ, check the connection between the propane tank and the fuel line and ensure there are no gas leaks. Keep lighter fluid, matches, and lighters away from children. Never barbecue in enclosed areas and never bring charcoal grills indoors.
  • Keep alcoholic drinks, cigarettes and ashtrays out of reach of children. Dispose of smoked butts in a sealed container after the party.

In the Sunshine

It is important to slip, slop, slap, and wrap during the summer months. Sunscreens ingested by children can lead to upset stomachs with vomiting and diarrhoea.

  • Dont leave sunscreens where children can find them. Always store them out of reach of children.

Forgot to use sunscreen and now sunburnt? Many products which relieve sunburn contain local anaesthetics which, if ingested, can lead to serious poisoning in a child.

  • If using after-sun creams ensure they are applied correctly and kept out of reach of children.




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University of Otago NZ National Poisons Centre


Last updated 12/02/2008



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