June 13, 2002

Summertime Safety Tips

UCSD Healthcare and the California Poison Control System offer these summertime tips to help keep the season safe.

Food Poisoning

Summer is the time for barbecues and picnics; but while summertime can be fun, it can be hazardous. Throughout the year certain precautions should be taken to fight food poisoning but especially in the summer.

At warm temperatures--60 degrees and over--food poisoning bacteria can begin to multiply and cause illness. Food poisoning, caused by harmful bacteria, normally produces intestinal flu-like symptoms lasting a few hours to several days and can be serious in the young, the old and people with other illnesses.

"When summer temperatures reach 80 degrees and above, food poisoning bacteria can begin to multiply even more quickly. The best way to fight food poisoning is to keep perishable foods—especially meat and poultry—cold between preparation and serving," said Richard Clark, M.D., medical director, California Poison Control System and UCSD Toxicology.

Keep everything that touches food clean. Wash your hands before, during and after food preparation. Wash utensils, bowls, and countertops—everything that comes into contact with food. By observing cold storage, sanitation, and thorough cooking you can keep your food safe.


Keep Medications Out of Reach

Parents should not leave medications in reach of toddlers or young children and should pay special attention to children while on vacation, when the family is not in familiar surroundings. Iron poisoning from vitamins in toddlers is responsible for more deaths nationwide than any other medications. Additionally, young children swallowing medications accounts for the greatest number of poisoning emergencies.

Household chemicals

Additionally, summer is a time that can bring a multitude of household chemicals out of the cupboard and medicine cabinets. During clean up in the house remember children act fast and so do poisons. Parents and grandparents are cautioned not to depend too heavily on childproof caps on medicines and on cleaning agents. Safety caps only slow children down, they don't stop them. Some medications that can cause a poisoning include analgesics, cough and cold products, antimicrobials, antihistamines, antidepressants, asthma therapies, and sedative/hypnotics.

The San Diego Division of the California Poison Control System, based at UCSD Medical Center, serves millions of residents in San Diego, Imperial, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties. The 24-hour California Poison Control System can be reached at (800) 876-4766.

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Media Contact:
Eileen Callahan

UCSD Health Sciences Communications HealthBeat: http://health.ucsd.edu/news/