BYLINE: Alicia Gambino

Newswise — Each summer, the New Jersey Poison Control Center at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School receives an increase in calls related to seasonal hazards. Beyond sunburns and heat-related illnesses, everyday items at home or on vacation can become dangerous.

“Many summer hazards hide in plain sight, sadly leading to an increased number of potentially dangerous exposures,” said Diane Calello, executive and medical director of the poison control center. “With more people likely to purchase alcoholic beverages in the summer, we’re concerned about the increased risk of children accidentally drinking alcohol. Children are extremely sensitive to the poisonous effects of alcohol and can suffer life-threatening symptoms.”

Beverage companies producing nonalcoholic drinks such as SunnyD, Mountain Dew, Arizona, Simply and Dunkin’ also market “hard” or “spiked” seltzers and other products to adult consumers. The labels do indicate the alcohol content, though some consumers may still be unaware. Always read labels carefully to distinguish between alcoholic and nonalcoholic products from the same brand.

To prevent accidental exposures and emergency room visits, experts at the New Jersey Poison Control Center offer the following summer safety tips:

Adult Recreational Products

  • Keep alcoholic drinks separate from nonalcoholic ones to prevent confusion whether on shelves or in coolers.
  • Lock up products such as liquid nicotine, vapes and marijuana edibles to prevent children and pets from accidental ingestion, which can cause serious injury.

Food Poisoning

  • Wash hands before and after handling raw food.
  • Refrigerate meats, fish, poultry and mayonnaise-based salads within two hours (one hour if 90 degrees or warmer).
  • Be cautious with food from festivals or food trucks; avoid eating if food is left out too long.


  • To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, avoid using grills indoors or in enclosed areas, such as garages, basements, sheds, recreational vehicles, campers and boat cabins.
  • Lock up charcoal and lighter fluids to prevent accidental ingestion by children and pets.


  • Avoid picking or eating wild plants and mushrooms; they can cause serious illness or death.
  • Be aware of poison ivy, oak and sumac; their oils cause itchy rashes and shouldn’t be burned.
  • Store torch and lamp fluids safely as they resemble apple juice containers and can be dangerous if swallowed.

Other Dangers

  • Avoid mixing alcohol with medication; dangerous interactions can occur.
  • Pick up used fireworks immediately; they can cause injury if ingested by children or pets.

If you think someone came in contact with something dangerous, contact the New Jersey Poison Control Center immediately for medical treatment advice at 800-222-1222.