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Virginia Poison Center urges you to kick off summer safely
May 25, 2023
Boy and his mom smiling with plate of hot dogs at summer cookout

    Virginia Poison Center urges you to kick off summer safely

    This weekend marks the unofficial start to summer. While enjoying vacations, pool time and cookouts, a few extra precautions will help keep your family and friends safe.

    If you do have concerns about a potential poisoning, the poison help line offers 24/7, fast, free and confidential help:


    Avoid unwanted summer surprises with these poison prevention tips from our Virginia Poison Center

    Pool chemical safety

    Backyard pools usually require chemicals to keep them clean and healthy for swimming – but they can also be hazardous. Follow these tips for proper handling.

    • Store pool chemicals in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area, away from other household products and garden chemicals. Heat or moisture can cause undesirable changes to chemicals.
    • Only handle chemicals in a well-ventilated space.
    • Use recommended protective equipment such as gloves or masks when handling hazardous products.
    • Never mix chemicals. Mixing can create a poisonous gas.
    • Keep pool chemicals and products stored in their original containers, up and out of reach from pets and children (preferably in a locked cabinet).

    Food safety

    The last thing you want to serve at your picnic is a case of food poisoning. Prevent it with the following food safety practices.

    • Thaw food safely in the refrigerator, cold water or a microwave.
    • Wash your hands, utensils and work surfaces with soap and water before and after handling raw meat.
    • Don’t cross-contaminate! Throw out marinades once used and do not place cooked meat back on a plate that held raw meat.
    • Use a food thermometer to ensure meat is cooked to a safe internal temperature.
      • 145°F – whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, veal and fish
      • 160°F – hamburgers
      • 165°F – poultry (white meat), pre-cooked meats (hot dogs)
      • 175°F – poultry (dark meat)
    • Place leftovers in the freezer or fridge within 2 hours of cooking.

    Medication safety while traveling

    Making sure kids can’t get their hands on medicines that aren’t intended for them is just as important on vacation as it is at home. Stay vigilant about medication safety with these reminders.

    • Keep medications in original, child resistant containers. When packing, avoid using containers such as pill organizers or zip lock bags that can easily be opened by a child.
    • Never leave medications in a suitcase or on bedside tables, as they can be easily accessed.
    • As you unpack, store all medications up high and out of reach from children. Safe storage during vacation can include hotel safes or medicine lock boxes.
    • Never put different kinds of medicines in the same container.
    • Always double check to make sure caps are properly secured on medication bottles.

    Snakes and snake bites

    Virginia is home to more than 30 species of snakes, three of which are venomous (copperhead, timber rattlesnake and cottonmouth). Stay alert when in areas with tall grass, forest or rocks.

    Signs and symptoms of snake bites include:

    • puncture marks at the wound
    • redness, bruising or swelling around bite
    • nausea, vomiting, labored breathing or disturbed vision
    • numbness or tingling around the face/limbs

    If you think someone has been bitten by a venomous snake:

    • stay calm and take note of the snake’s color, shape and markings
    • seek medical assistance ASAP
    • wash the bite with soap and water
    • mark the leading edge of the tenderness and swelling, and write the time
    • remove tight clothing or jewelry before swelling starts
    • DO NOT attempt to suck out the venom

    Find more helpful information from the Virginia Poison Center.

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