As the summer season officially gets underway, stay safe with these tips from the Florida/USVI Poison Information Center - Jacksonville.

“This year, more than ever, people are looking to get outside after they’ve been in their homes for the past few months during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Dawn Sollee, center director. “Every summer we see a significant increase in poisonings and expect to see spikes again this year.

We traditionally see a jump of 30 percent or more in cases involving pool chemicals, snake bites, jellyfish stings and mushroom ingestions. It’s important for Floridians to know they can contact their poison control center 24 hours a day at 1-800-222-1222 for free treatment advice from a healthcare professional.”

Pool Chemical Safety

• Ensure you are in a well-ventilated area when using pool chemicals.

• Follow the product instructions carefully.

• Do not store chemicals where flammable items may mix with them (i.e. pool chemicals and fertilizer).

• Never mix pool chemicals because it could create a toxic gas.

• Always keep pool chemicals stored up and away from children.

Snake Bites

• Call the poison control center (or 911, if unarousable, convulsing or stopped breathing) if someone has been bitten by one of the six venomous snakes found in Florida: pygmy rattlesnake, cottonmouth (water moccasin), eastern diamondback rattlesnake, canebrake (timber) rattlesnake, copperhead or coral snake.

• If bitten by a snake, remove jewelry and tight clothes, immobilize the extremity if possible, keep affected area at or below the heart and wash the area gently.

• DO NOT feed the victim, make cuts into the bite area, place ice on the bitten extremity or apply a tourniquet.

Insect Repellent Usage

• Read and follow product instructions carefully; some products are not meant to be applied to the skin.

• Do not apply onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, or cut/irritated skin; spray repellent onto adult’s hands then apply to child’s face.

• Do not use combination sunscreen/insect repellent products. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours, but repellent should not be reapplied.

• DEET should not be used on children younger than two months old.

• After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water.

Additional Outdoor Hazards

• At the beach, bring a spray bottle of vinegar in case of jellyfish stings. If you’re stung, call the poison control center for specific treatment advice.

• If bitten by a spider, call the poison control center immediately.

• For common insect stings, including fire ants, bees, wasps and caterpillars, initially apply a baking soda paste. Then call the poison control center for more specific treatment advice.

• Treat all wild mushrooms as poisonous unless you are absolutely certain they are safe to eat.

“Remember to keep your vigilance up for prevention of COVID-19, as well,”said Sollee. “We continue to see increases in exposures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as hand sanitizer, bleaches, and disinfectants. Keep kids away from chemicals and remember to not mix cleaning products, as it could create a toxic gas.”

The Florida/USVI Poison Information Center – Jacksonville is a cooperative effort between the University of Florida College of Medicine, UF Health Jacksonville, the University of Florida Health Science Center – Jacksonville, and the State of Florida, Department of Health, Children’s Medical Services. To learn more, visit, like the organization on Facebook and follow it on Twitter (@FloridaPoison).