Now that the weather is warming up, more families and children are spending time outside and in the backyard. There are many hidden poisons right in front of us that we don’t even realize are dangerous. Here is a list of the most common backyard poisons:



All parts of the plant are poisonous and can cause burning of mouth and mucosal areas.

Poison: digitalis,

Symptoms: Slow heart rate, low blood pressure, drooling, blurred vision, confusion, bloody diarrhea.

Treatment: depends on cardiac rhythms. Sometimes pace-maker implanted. Always seek emergency treatment if ingested by humans or animals. Can be lethal to both.



The red berries (seeds) can be consumed by children and dogs. All parts of the plant are toxic, but berries are the most toxic. After the red seeds drop to the ground, they can turn brown and shrivel, looking almost like a date. They are still poisonous!

Poison:  Carcinogens, cyanide and neurotoxins

Symptoms: Clinical signs include vomiting, bloody stool, yellowing of the eyes, increased thirst, bloody emesis, bruising, coagulopathy, liver damage, liver failure and death.

Treatment: Depends on symptoms. Always seek emergency treatment if any of the above signs appear!




Symptoms of a black widow spider bite start within an hour after being bitten.

Symptoms include severe muscle cramps, abdominal pain, weakness, and tremor.

In severe cases symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, faintness, dizziness, chest pain, and respiratory difficulties.

Treatment:  Wash the bite site with soap and water

Apply an ice pack wrapped in a cloth over the bite location

To help prevent an infection apply an antibiotic lotion or cream to the bite site

Elevate if the bite is on a limb (arm or leg) to prevent swelling

Seek immediate emergency care

Try to collect the spider specimen in a small jar or plastic bag for examination by a spider expert, even if you have crushed it.

Treatment in a medical facility may be necessary.


Desert Recluse:  Nearly identical to the brown recluse, desert recluses are found in Southern Nevada.

Symptoms: Reddened skin that may be followed by a blister that forms at the bite site.

Mild to intense pain and itching for 2 to 8 hours following the bite.

An open sore (ulcer) with a breakdown of tissue (necrosis) that develops a week or more following the bite. This may take months to heal.

Fever and chills.

Skin rash all over the body with many tiny, flat purple and red spots.

Nausea or vomiting.

Joint pain.

Treatment: Tetanus immunization

Pain medication

Antibiotics if signs of infection are present in the wound

Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) for itch relief

Bark Scorpion:

Scorpion:most common here in Las Vegas is Bark Scorpion

Symptoms:  A bark scorpion sting feels similar to a wasp or hornet sting, but scorpions release neurotoxins that affect the nervous system. The sensation of the sting has been compared to a mild electric shock. Symptoms usually last 24 to 72 hours and rarely are serious, unless the person stung is allergic.

Symptoms: Numbness and tingling, nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath

Serious symptoms: Numbness, frothing at the mouth, paralysis, seizure-like symptoms

Children who are stung always should seek immediate medical attention. Acute care hospitals will be able to supply Anascorp, an intravenous antivenom for the treatment of a scorpion sting. This treatment can resolve clinical toxicity within four hours after treatment.

Treatment: pain medicine

Muscle relaxers, etc.

Respiratory support



Most people keep pool supplies in their backyard pool box or shed. Children, especially young children under 3 can get their hands on them and try to ingest them, which can be fatal. They can also have severe skin and mucus membrane reactions, blindness, etc.



A lot of people prefer to do their own home extermination. They use spray-able insect repellant which can be toxic to humans and animals. Make sure to put these products up and away from where small children can get to them in your home or backyard.


A lot of people also use weed killer to keep weeds at bay in their yards, cracks in concrete, sidewalks and driveways. Parents must be mindful of putting these chemicals up and away from children’s reach as soon as they are done with them. They can be fatal if swallowed, cause skin and mucus membrane irritation.