Homeland Security and Emergency Services

Information Bulletin

Nature's Chemical Weapons

July 2011, OFPC posted an Information Bulletin regarding the hazards of the Giant Hogweed plant, http://www.dhses.ny.gov/ofpc/alerts-bulletins/information/documents/2011/201107005.pdf . Giant Hogweed has similar characteristics to Poison Ivy and may cause severe skin reactions if the “sap” comes in contact with bare skin. The skin reactions may vary from nuisance itching and a rash to severe blistering and scarring.

Since another wildland fire season is upon us, responders should be aware of other plants common to New York State that present similar hazards to firefighters. Nature’s Chemical Weapons may be encountered whenever an incident requires firefighters, EMS responders and law enforcement personnel to venture into areas that are over grown or allowed to grow natural, often referred to as “forever wild”. Whether called to an motor vehicle accident with the vehicle down an embankment or to a hiker lost in the woods, contact with any of these plants could lead to very serious medical issues.

Poison Ivy

Poison Sumac

Stinging Nettles

Cow Parsnip