Poison Center: Don’t let hazards ruin outdoor fun

CHARLESTON – With the “official” start of summer comes weekends of camping fun for many West Virginians.

While camping, many poison hazards can turn a fun-filled weekend into a poison nightmare. The West Virginia Poison Center offers these camping safety tips.

Paying attention to thorough cooking of meats and proper storage of leftovers is not just essential at home. Check food cooked over a campfire or heated on a camp stove to make sure cooking is complete before eating it. Use enough ice or cold storage packs to make sure the cooler actually stays cold. Discard all food requiring refrigeration if left at room temperature for longer than two hours. Symptoms of food poisoning may include stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea.

While sitting around the campfire, there may be leftover cups, glasses, bottles, or cans which may contain alcoholic beverages. It can be very dangerous if children drink from these containers. Empty alcoholic drinks as soon as possible and do not leave them sitting out where children can get them. Avoid putting hands in spaces that cannot be seen. Snakes can be found in piles of logs or rocks or under objects that have not been disturbed for awhile. Black widow spiders hide in dark, wet areas. Never touch, disturb or provoke snakes or spiders. Check for ticks every day and remove any that are seen by grasping the tick as close to the skin as possible and pulling it out in a continuous motion. Do not burn them or apply chemicals to them.

When applying bug spray, be sure to read and follow the directions. When used as directed, these products are unlikely to cause harm. Keep bug sprays away from children and only allow adults to apply the product. To avoid potential irritation, do not apply bug sprays on the face. After applying, wash hands. Keep a watch out for poisonous plants, mushrooms, or berries. Teach children to never put a part of a plant, mushroom or berry into their mouth. Remember, just because a bird or animal eats the plant, mushroom or berry does not make it safe for children or adults.

Never use generators, fuel-powered stoves or lanterns inside a tent or camper. These products can produce hazardous, deadly fumes called carbon monoxide. Also, check gas and fuel canisters for leaks and turn them off when not in use.

If you suspect a poisoning has occurred, call the West Virginia Poison Center at (800) 222-1222.