He Sat On
(and other true springtime
On a hike with his
family, a ten-year-old sat down on a log. He didn’t look first. Oops
– a snake bite in a most unexpected place…
On a pleasant early
spring day, a woman pulled on her gardening gloves. Oops again – a
spider had taken up residence in one of the fingers…
A young man pulled
some wild carrots to cook in his stew. After he developed seizures,
someone identified the “carrots” as hemlock…
In the woods or in
the garden, nature can surprise the unprepared. Here are a few
safety tips for hikers and gardeners.
A warm sunny
will lure critters from their
dens. At home or in the woods, be aware that snakes might be
taking a sun bath. There are poisonous snakes in the Washington
area; the most common is the copperhead. These snakes would
prefer to leave you alone, but they will defend themselves if
or climbing, LOOK before placing your feet or hands (or, of
course, sitting on a log).
If you know
you'll be walking in snake habitat, be sure to wear long,
loose pants tucked inside your boots.
do NOT use old home remedies. That means no incisions,
no suction, no electrical charges, no tourniquets.
Instead, pull out your cell phone, call the poison center,
and get to your car.
look for dark spaces. Gardening gloves, gardening boots
and clogs, apron pockets and tool cases are perfect for spiders,
especially if they haven't been used all winter. Black
widow spiders and brown recluse spiders can bite and cause an
gloves, boots, and clogs over and shake them out before
putting them on.
If you are
bitten by a spider, wash the area well and call the poison
Do NOT eat
plants that you cannot positively identify. This is true
all year round,
even in the spring time when we think not much is growing yet.
be fooled with look-alike plants. Children will eat
anything in sight. And poison ivy can cause a rash -
even if you don't recognize the vine without its leaves.
be confused at any age. A child poured water from a
vase of daffodils all over his breakfast. A confused
older woman drank water from a vase of lily-of-the-valley.
bites or eats or chews a plant, call the poison center right
The expert staff at
the National Capital Poison Center will help you with a bite, sting,
or plant poisoning. Call the 24-hour number: