Dyan Eybergen, a child and adolescent psychiatric nurse, has more than 10 years experience working as a therapist and parent educator. Eybergen currently resides in St. Albert, Alberta, with her husband and three sons. Out of the Mouths ...
Summer is synonymous with family picnics and fun in the sun. We have all been well informed about sunburn, heat exhaustion and the careful handling of food while outdoors in the summer heat, but there are a number of hidden summer dangers that we don’t always think about -- and that can be just as harmful to our family’s health.
Poison Ivy and Poison Oak
Poison ivy is a three-leafed vine or low shrub with greenish flowers and white berries that grows mainly in Ontario, Quebec and all US states east of the Rockies except North Dakota. It appears harmless but can cause serious skin reactions. Its relatives -- poison oak, which grows as high as six feet, and poison sumac, which grows mainly in swampy woods or shrub swamps -- all contain urushiol (toxic oil) and can cause the same skin reaction.
Wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and closed-toe shoes when you're out in areas where these plants thrive.
Don't let pets run in the woods; the oils from poison ivy can be transferred from fur to your skin. Hose pets down if they've touched the plant.
Wash your hands, body and clothes carefully after being outdoors, even if you don't think you came into contact with a poisonous plant.
Use cold water instead of hot, which tends to open the pores and help the absorption of the oil. If you come in contact with poison ivy, try not to touch any other body part, because the poison spreads easily.
Wash the affected part of your body within 10 minutes of exposure, using lots of cool water and soap to get rid of as much of the poisonous oil as possible.
If you get a rash, soak in a lukewarm bath and put bags of ice on the affected area.
Calamine lotion dries the blisters and relieve the itch. If you want a more effective rash reliever, get a prescription for a topical steroid from your doctor.
Although not easy, refrain from scratching to avoid infection and spread of the rash.
Around the Yard
Whether you're trimming hedges, mowing the lawn or working on a building project, keep these yard safety tips in mind:
Look before you mow and remove any objects that could cause an obstruction or be thrown by propelling blades.
Anyone who uses a mower should wear ear and eye protection and proper footwear.
Inspect power tools and cords before use and unplug them immediately after.
Before using the barbecue this summer, check burners and tubes for blockages, and don't use expired propane tanks. If you use a charcoal grill, close the vents and place the lid on top to snuff out the fire when you are finished cooking.