1-800-222-1222  •  Free • Confidential  • 24 hours a day • 7 days a week

Summer Poison Safety

The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center encourages you to follow these tips from HRSA  to ensure a safe summer break!

Food Poisoning

  • Always wash hands and counters before preparing food. Use clean utensils for cooking and serving.
  • Store, cook, and reheat food at the proper temperatures.
  • Refrigerated foods should not be left out at temperatures above 40 degrees F (5 degrees C). The following foods, and others, can quickly spoil and become unsafe: party platters, meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, eggs, mayonnaise, and cooked vegetables.
  • Do not let food sit out at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Wash hands, cutting boards, utensils, and dishes with hot, soapy water after handling raw meat, poultry, or seafood.
  • Watch for signs of food poisoning. They include fever, headache, diarrhea, stomach pains, nausea, and vomiting.

Mushrooms & Plants

  • Only experts can tell poisonous mushrooms from safe mushrooms.
  • Poisonous mushrooms, called "death caps," often grow in yards and parks.
  • Eating even a few bites of certain mushrooms can cause liver damage that can kill you.
  • If you are allergic to poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac, touching it can cause blisters on your skin.
  • If someone touches one of these plants, rinse right away with running water for at least five minutes.
  • Unless you are a plant expert, do not pick your own foods to eat in the wild.
  • Poison center experts may not be able to identify plants on the phone, so it is important before a poisoning occurs to learn the names of plants around your home.

Insect Bites

  • Be alert to insects that may bite or sting, particularly bees, wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets. After a sting, the skin will show redness and swelling and may be itchy and painful.
  • Insect stings may cause serious problems and even death for those who are allergic to them.
  • Go to a hospital right away if you are stung and have any of these signs: hives, dizziness, breathing trouble, or swelling around eyes and mouth.
  • Be sure to check the label on any insect repellent. Be aware that most contain DEET, which can be dangerous in large quantities.
  • Have an adult apply repellent to children. When using repellent on a child, put a little on your own hands, then rub them on your child. Avoid the eyes and mouth, and use only a little around the ears.
  • Use separate products when there is a need for insect spray and sunscreen.
  • Follow the label instructions.
  • Do not use sunscreen that contains DEET.
  • Repeatedly applying a product with DEET can increase the risk of harmful effects.
  • For most products, after returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water.
  • Check the label of the product you are using for more advice.

Alcoholic Drinks and Products

  • Alcohol can be a deadly poison for children because they are small and their livers are not fully developed. All of the following are dangerous for children: beer, wine, mixed drinks, other alcoholic beverages, facial cleaners, and mouthwash. Therefore, do not leave products containing alcohol where children can reach them.
  • Alcohol will make a child sleepy. The child can develop low blood sugar. This can lead to seizures, coma, and death.
  • Be alert at parties and gatherings. Children may find cups containing leftover alcohol within their reach.

Other Poison Risks

  • Lighter fluid, gasoline, torch and lamp oils can be deadly if swallowed. Watch children closely at all times when these are being used.
  • Use camp stoves, grills and generators outside, never inside buildings or tents.
  • Inhaling chlorine products can irritate the respiratory system. Homeowners who have swimming pools should store pool chemicals in a safe and secure place, out of children’s reach.


Need help or have a question? Call our pharmacists at the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center for free, 24/7 at 1-800-222-1222!

Originally posted: Mar 6, 2017
Last updated: Jul 8, 2022