The New Mexico Poison Center, based at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, specializes in poison emergencies and education about prevention. The Poison Center recommends certain preventive measures to ensure a healthy autumn.

Many mushrooms and berries appear in the fall. Children can be attracted to them by their colors and shapes. Virginia creeper, holly and nightshade are just a few that can be hazardous. Know the names of the plants in your yard and learn which ones are toxic.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is also a threat. As the weather becomes colder, the use of furnaces and propane and kerosene heaters increases. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas. Early symptoms include flu-like symptoms such as headache and nausea. More severe symptoms include sleepiness and vomiting. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning install a carbon monoxide alarm, and use kerosene or propane heaters only in well ventilated areas. Turn off your furnace or stove if you think it is malfunctioning and have it checked by the gas company.

"People with carbon monoxide poisoning often complain of tightness across the forehead, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and dimness of vision. This can progress to fluttering of the heart, chest pain, increased breathing rate, and may end with coma, convulsions and death, said Jess Benson, Pharm.D., director of the New Mexico Poison Center.

Insect bites are something to beware of as well. As the weather becomes cooler, people move indoors and so do spiders. Spider bites can cause painful injuries. Shake out clothes and shoes before wearing them and wear gloves when handling firewood.

Also, be sure to safely store summer products such as insecticides, pool chemicals, paints, charcoal lighter fluid, and gasoline. Store in their original containers, under lock and key, high and out of reach of small children.

Chile roasting season also poses special hazards. Chile peppers have irritating chemicals that can cause prolonged discomfort for people with sensitive skin and extreme pain if contaminated fingers touch eyes or contact lenses. This can be avoided by wearing rubber gloves while roasting, peeling and processing peppers.

The New Mexico Poison Center is available for emergencies, 24 hours a day, toll free at 1-800-432-6866.
Contact: Sam Giammo, 272-3322