The sun, insect bites and stings, and snakes can be potential poison hazards as we head outside this summer. The California Poison Control System (CPCS) is available at 1-800-222-1222, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for immediate expert help and information in case of poison exposure.
According to Dr. Richard Clark of the CPCS, “The biggest potential poisoning concern as we head outside is the sun. For protection, Californians of all ages and skin types should wear hats and sunscreen.”
Snakes live everywhere in California and while most are not poisonous, the rattlesnake is. To protect against rattlesnake bites, stay on trails when hiking, look carefully where you step. especially when off-trail. If bitten by a rattlesnake, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Bites and stings from insects are usually more bothersome than dangerous. Mosquitoes may carry West Nile Virus and if fever, headaches and nausea occur from a mosquito bite, contact your physician immediately. Ticks can carry Lyme disease and if fever, rash, or vomiting occurs, you should also contact your physician immediately. The best way to prevent insect bites is to use repellent containing DEET on exposed skin.
Spiders enjoy warm weather, too! Tarantulas are often thought to be poisonous but generally are not. More dangerous is the black widow spider, which can cause severe pain in some cases. If you are bitten by a black widow and are concerned about your symptoms, call the California Poison Control System for advice. If your symptoms are severe, go to the emergency room.
Bees, wasps and yellow jacket stings can also be dangerous especially if you are allergic. Africanized bees have arrived in California and are very aggressive. If you see a bee swarm the best action is to run as fast you can, cover your face and close your mouth, and try to find someplace dark and cold to hide – like a car with the air conditioning on.
If you or your child is bitten or stung, try to stay calm and remember that the California Poison Control System at 1-800-222-1222 has trained and certified pharmacists, nurses and Poison Information Providers to quickly help you 24/7. The service is free, confidential and interpreters are always available.