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Outdoor Adventures: Make Them Safe and Fun for All!

Featured Photo from Outdoor Adventures:  Make Them Safe and Fun for All!

Regardless of the reasons why you love spending time outdoors (gardening, hiking, or camping), here are a few tips to keep you safe while partaking in your favorite outdoor activities.

You’ve been waiting for this moment.The weather is perfect, school is out, and you are ready to start enjoying the outdoors with your family. To make the most of these special outings, always wear protective clothing and be mindful of potential dangers such as snakes, plants, spiders, and bees.

Regardless of the reasons why you love spending time outdoors (gardening, hiking, or camping), here are a few tips to keep you safe while partaking in your favorite outdoor activities.

Avoid Bites and Stings
Snakes: Snakes like to hide in holes, dense shrubs, piles of debris/woods/rocks, and under tree stumps, so carry a long stick and keep your eyes out to avoid stepping on a snake. If you are going camping for a few days for example, it can be a great opportunity to teach your children about Florida’s venomous snakes before the trip. Remember, however, that it is always best to stay away from all snakes. 

The venomous snakes seen in Florida include rattlesnakes (Eastern diamondback, pigmy, canebrake), Southern copperhead, cottonmouth/water moccasin, and the coral snake. If someone is accidentally bitten by a snake, always stay calm and call for help immediately. Remember you can actually make things worse with the wrong first-aid treatment, so get help right away.

Tip: Teach children the sound of rattlesnakes so they can practice listening and help keep everyone safe.
Did you know? Even a dead snake can bite!

Spiders: Although all spiders can bite, black widow spiders can cause muscle cramps, weakness, abdominal pain, and difficulty breathing. Seek help immediately if bitten by a black widow spider.

Bee stings: Stings from bees, wasps, and yellowjackets can be very painful and lead to redness and swelling. Some people can have severe allergic reactions like tongue and throat swelling, wheezing, or shortness of breath.

Tip: Remember to always carry an EpiPen if someone in the family is allergic.

Call 911 if someone is having an allergic reaction!

Safety Around Plants
Some plants are poisonous if ingested, others can cause skin irritation. Plants like stinging nettle, Spanish bayonet, and pencil cactus can cause punctures or burns. Avoid rubbing eyes after contact with plants. Teach children not to put wild plants in their mouths even if they may look like berries. Also, remind them to never pick up or eat wild mushrooms because most of them are toxic. Don’t forget that the family dog can also get sick if they come in contact with some toxic plants.

  • Tips: 
    Teach children how to identify Poison Ivy (identifiable by three leaflets) and alert the family if spotted.
    If you are burning bushes, remember poisoning can occur if you inhale the smoke produced by poisonous plants. 
  •  Avoid using plants to make teas or home remedies
  •  In case of exposure to toxic plants like wild berries, symptoms of poisoning can be delayed, so do not wait for symptoms to develop before getting help. 

When thinking about your next outdoor excursion, remember to avoid contact with snakes and spiders, be aware of toxic plants, and don’t overlook life-threatening symptoms. Call the Florida Poison Information Center before trying your own remedies and don’t wait for symptoms to occur. As always, call 911 if someone is bleeding, choking, can’t breathe, or passes out.
Now let the outdoor  adventures begin!

Dr. Jemima Desir serves as the healthcare education specialist at the Florida Poison Information Center in Tampa. Help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer your questions and to assist in case of a poisoning emergency. Calls are free and confidential. Call 800-222-1222.

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