Don't Let Poison Hazards Ruin Holidays; Camping

June 30, 2006

Contact: Lauren Cruse, 272-3690


Celebrating the 4th of July holiday by spending time outdoors picnicking, camping, or swimming could expose you to some poison hazards. "Common poisons include food poisoning, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, bites and stings and mushrooms," says Jess Benson, director of the New Mexico Poison Center.

By following a few poison prevention tips, you can help make your 4th of July celebrations poison safe. Do not let food poisoning ruin your summer picnic or camping trips. Keep "cold" foods cold and "hot" foods hot before and after serving. Thoroughly cook all foods according to standard guidelines. Pack soap and water and wash hands carefully before and after handling food. Put leftover food in the ice chest right away.

Be careful with hydrocarbons like gasoline, kerosene and charcoal lighter fluid. Follow the directions when using these products. Open containers carefully and keep all products in their original labeled containers. Keep the products locked-up where children cannot see them or reach them. Minimize exposure to carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is an invisible, tasteless, odorless gas that comes from burning fossil fuels like natural gas, gasoline, kerosene, methane, propane, oil, coal and wood.

•Gas fired barbeque and charcoal grills must never be used inside a house or garage…not even with the door opened. When camping, use only battery powered heaters and lights in tents, trailers, or motor homes. Never use fuel-burning appliances inside.

•Know where your boat engine and generator exhaust outlets are located and keep people away from these areas. Never run the engine or generator when people are in the water near the boat. Run exhaust blowers whenever the generator is operating. Never sit, or hang on the back deck or swim platform while the engines are running.

Use insect repellent carefully and avoid spraying your face. DEET is a common ingredient in insect repellents and can have harmful effects if used in high concentrations. Always read labels thoroughly before using any insect repellant. Wear a Medic-Alert bracelet if you have a history of a life-threatening allergic reaction. Ask your physician about prescribing an emergency bee sting kit to have in an emergency.

Avoid wild mushrooms. Consider all outdoor mushrooms to be poisonous. Check your yard regularly for mushrooms, especially after a rainfall. Remove any mushrooms in your yard and throw them away. Teach children never to touch, taste or eat any outdoor mushrooms.

Call the New Mexico Poison Center for emergency life-saving treatment information, 24-hours a day, toll free at 1-800-222-1222 or call for answers to questions about any type of poison. The New Mexico Poison Center…Saving lives?one call at a time.

The New Mexico Poison Center is a public service program of the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center and is affiliated with the College of Pharmacy

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