This is the busiest time of year for calls into the Nebraska Regional Poison Center. Experts are lending their insight on how to handle seasonal threats - from insect repellents to bee stings to wild berries.
One of the first questions operators say people ask is if they need to head to an emergency room. However, 75-percent of callers, they say, can safely manage their symptoms at home.
That's significant, since a recent study showed the number of uninsured Nebraskans has gone up by 67-percent in this past decade. It's estimated that calls to the poison center save $21 million annually by preventing unnecessary emergency department visits.
The registered nurses and physicians assistance, taking calls at 1-800-222-1222, can provide free information about what to do and what to watch out for. They also make follow-up calls as needed, to ensure the patients continue to improve.
Here are the experts' guidelines for the most common calls they take this time of year.
Insect Repellents: DEET containing insecticides should be applied sparingly and only applied to exposed skin and clothing. Remember, lower concentrations of less than 10% have been found to be just as effective as higher concentrations.
Bee Stings: The bee population has started to increase and will be at its peak until the first freeze. If you are stung- call the poison center. Close observation for allergic reaction is important, especially in the first hour after a sting.
Poisonous plants/berries: Berries are attractive to small children and can cause some unpleasant symptoms. If you’re not sure if your plants are poisonous or if you want a list of toxic plants, the poison center is here to help you.
Bleach: Household bleach has many uses around the house but it can cause problems if it gets in the eye or is swallowed. Bleach should never be used with other cleaning products. When it comes in contact with other cleaners that contain acids or ammonia - a dangerous gas can form causing serious respiratory problems.