I truly come from one of THOSE families. No, not the Leave it to
Beaver families, but does anyone have one of those anymore? No, I
have the Clark Griswold keep you on your toes kind of family. When
I leave a family gathering I usually leave with a story to tell my
coworkers, but I usually don't come back with a story that actually
pertains to my work. However, to my surprise this last family
gathering I was wrong. I actually came back with a story that
pertained to my work!
While we were all sitting together making small talk, someone
started to ask me about work. As we were chatting, cousin Eddie*
shouts "you know we have an aunt who died from poison oak!". I then
had one of those cartoon double head whip "WHAT?!?!" moments. Of
course my curiosity was immediately sparked and I NEEDED to know
more. Apparently this aunt was burning poison oak and inhaled the
fumes and subsequently died from it. Now I know that burning poison
oak, ivy, and sumac is a BIG no-no, but hearing about someone who
actually died from it AND who was in my family was like seeing a
cat walk on its hind legs!
Now you may be wondering "what happens if you do inhale the
fumes?". Well the biggest thing and the most likely outcome, is the
urushiol oil is released and will travel with the smoke and you
could potentially end up with a rash all over. In some cases, if
the fumes are inhaled the urushiol oil coats the lining of the
lungs and cause extreme respiratory difficulty and could ultimately
lead to death. Unfortunately, there is no amount of Tecnu® that can fix that.
Who knows if cousin Eddie's mystery aunt story is actually true.
But don't let her death or non-death not scare you. Burning poison
oak, ivy, or sumac is extremely dangerous and should never happen!
Please always remember to "Learn before you Burn".
* Name has been changed to protect this person's identity.
Photo courtesy of 2laneamerica.com