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Officials: Rise in calls over tiki torch fuel poisoning in Oklahoma

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Posted at 3:28 PM, Jul 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-04 18:43:09-04

TULSA, Okla. — Before lighting a tiki torch to keep mosquitoes away, experts say you should take precautions, especially if there are children around.

The popular method to keep those annoying bugs away can be deadly if not handled carefully. Experts at Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information told 2 News they’re seeing a rise in calls for torch fuel poisoning.

“We see an increase in calls come spring and summer when people are getting out, having their outdoor parties, and lighting those lamps and tiki torches,” says Kristie Edelen, the assistant managing director at Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information.

Edelen says most of the calls, involve children.

“Especially when you pour tiki torch fuel out of its original container it looks very similar to apple juice to kiddos. So they can pick it up and drink it and the taste kind of catches them off guard and they might cough and choke. And sometimes it can get down into the lungs."

Experts say if torch fuel gets on the skin, wash it off immediately and monitor your child. However, if it's ingested, the problem is much more serious as torch fuel can coat the lungs, and create respiratory problems, like chemical pneumonitis.

“If a drink is taken it's easy for the liquid to get into the lungs. This could potentially cause some lung damage.

Edelen says there are signs to look out for if you think your child ingested the chemical.

“Coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath. Any drowsiness, any of these symptoms would be a sign of exposure or ingestion of tiki torch fuel.”

Do not put torch oil in drink containers, store the containers away from food and drinks and store them in a high place. If you have any concerns or questions, you can always call the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information at 1-800-222-1222.

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