Illinois Poison Center reminds public of safety measures

With the upcoming Memorial Day holiday marking the unofficial start to summer, the Illinois Poison Center is encouraging Illinoisans to take precautions against poison exposures, including foodborne illnesses.

Food poisoning affects millions of Americans every year, according to There are an estimated 48 million cases of foodborne illnesses annually – the equivalent of sickening 1 in 6 Americans each year. These illnesses result in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths each year.

To prevent harmful exposures, the IPC offers the following tips:

  • Food Safety: Properly prepare, cook and store food to keep bacteria at bay and prevent food poisoning.
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
  • Avoid cross-contamination of raw and cooked foods.
  • Cook food as close to serving time as possible to avoid bacterial growth.
  • Refrigerate food within two hours of cooking – if you are unsure how long an item has been out, play it safe and throw it away.
  • Keep coolers in the shade and out of the hot car or trunk.
  • Holiday Celebrations: Parties are fun, but present a number of opportunities for danger both for adults and children.
  • Be sure all tiki torch oils, lighter fluids, fireworks and other flammables are in their original containers, locked up and out of the reach of children. Accidentally drinking tiki torch oils or lighter fluids can be fatal.
  • Keep alcohol up and out of the reach of children.
  • Do not let children put glow sticks, fireworks or other substances in their mouths.
  • Open and use all pool chemicals in a very well-ventilated area and wear eye and skin protection.
  • Cover Up: Wear clothing that will cover as much exposed skin as possible in order to protect from plant poisonings, like poison ivy, or from insect bites and stings.
  • Creams and sprays: Sunscreen and bug repellants are crucial summertime staples, but they may contain chemicals that can be harmful.
  • Read all labels and apply according to the directions.
  • Wash hands immediately after application.

For information on summertime safety, visit the IPC Summer Safety page.