For both farmers and homeowners, this is the time of year when we like to get rid of nuisances, like unwanted plants and insects. Most of us think of using a pesticide spray to get quick efficient results. The term pesticide is a general catch-all word covering insecticides (bugs), herbicides (plants), fungicides (fungus) and others. Pesticides are great tools to help make our life more enjoyable but if used incorrectly, pesticides can cause harm to you and the environment.
There are more instances of unintended pesticide contact this time of year because of the increased chemical applications. Knowing some simple safety precautions to take when applying pesticides is key for you to reduce the potential for injuries. It may sound simple, but wearing a long-sleeve shirt, long pants and shoes when using pesticides is just one way you can decrease the risk of injury when spraying. Many people don’t take the time to learn safety requirements because they think they know it already, it’s very simple or “that’s how dad did it and I’ll do the same.” Don’t follow the leader unless you know he did things right.
One of the most important things you need to do when handling pesticides is to carefully read and follow the label directions. The label will tell you all you need to know about the particular pesticide you are using. It also tells you precautions, warnings and personal protective equipment you need to wear when using that chemical. The label is the law and it is illegal to use any procedure contrary to the label.
The label gives you the recommended rates to mix the product and how to apply. Utilizing theses rates will help keep you safe as well as keep you from over applying which leads to wasting your hard earned money, potential environmental concerns and even possible personal injury.
Positively identify the type of pest to be treated and the best product option. Be aware of the area surrounding the target you want to treat. Know how the chemical will react to other plants (don’t kill your flowers), beneficial insects as well as humans and pets. Spray when there is no wind to reduce drift. Use the lowest recommended amount according to label directions.
Wash your hands before eating, drinking, chewing gum, using tobacco or touching your nose or mouth. Immediately wash with clean water and change your clothes if pesticides are sprayed or spilled on you. Wash your work clothes separately from other clothing after mixing and using pesticides to prevent cross-contamination of yourself and your family.
Keep the label handy in case an accident happens and then you will have all the necessary information to properly respond or provide medical personnel. Keep the phone number for the Carolinas Poison Center handy (1-800-222-1222) just in case. This is a good number to have for other emergencies, not just a potential pesticide accident.
Pesticides are useful safe tools as long as we follow the rules and observe the warnings and recommendations provided. For more information on using pesticides safely or pesticides in general, contact the Cooperative Extension Service, Yadkin County Center at 336-679-2061.