photo of garden chemicals

Garden chemicals such as dormant-disease sprays and pesticides intended for use at this time of year can cause serious injury if inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin, according to poison prevention experts at UC Davis Health System.

“These products can be quite toxic, even with relatively small exposures, so it is doubly important to read the entire label carefully, and then use only as directed,” says Judith Alsop, managing director of the Sacramento Division of the California Poison Control System.

“Never use garden chemicals on a windy day, and avoid wearing leather belts or shoes,” cautions Alsop. “Leather items cannot be decontaminated and must be discarded. After using these products, shower with soap and water, scrub under your fingernails, wash your hair and put on clean clothes.

“The clothes you were wearing out in the garden should be washed separately from other items.”

Alsop also advises against transferring a pesticide or chemical from its original container to a food or beverage container, such as a soda pop bottle. These products should be stored safely out of the reach of young children.

And if you're setting out bare-root trees and shrubs or making plans for spring planting, now is the time to think about toxic plants.

“Check to be sure that the plants you're considering are not poisonous,” says Alsop, “especially if you have young children in or anywhere near your home and garden area, because many common plants have poisonous leaves, berries, seeds or flowers.

For 24-hour help with a poison emergency, call (800) 876-4766.