1) Know What to Look ForThese plants are common throughout the US in varying concentrations, with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii. While the woods are a common place to find poison ivy, oak and sumac, you may also encounter them along streams, roadsides, and in parks and backyards. Knowing how to identify these plants is the first step. Here are some great photo galleries and identification tips from About.com.
- Poison Ivy from David Beaulieu, About.com Guide to Landscaping
- Poison Oak from Wendy Bumgardner, About.com Guide to Walking
- Poison Sumac from David Beaulieu, About.com Guide to Landscaping
2) Do Pets Get Poison Ivy?Thankfully, no. They seem to be immune from the allergenic effects of urushiol, the plant oil that is rash and blister-inducing for humans.
Read more: Do Pets Get Poison Ivy?
3) Can I Get Poison Ivy From My Dog?Unfortunately, yes. While pets do not seem to get the rashes and blisters that humans get, they are a common source for human allergic reactions from these plants.
Learn how to: Get rid of poison ivy on pets, clothes and surfaces.
4) Urushiol May Persist For Years on SurfacesUrushiol is an extremely long-lived oil in the environment and on surfaces such as pet hair. Don't be fooled by dead poison ivy/oak/sumac plants, either. This oil may persist for years and be a source of "re-infection" long after the plant is gone.
5) Urushiol is Highly AllergenicSome individuals react with the very first contact with these plants, sometimes it takes repeated exposures (known or not). Never assume that you are immune. Play it safe or you may join the poison ivy skin rash hall of fame.
6) Getting Rid of These Plants Can Be Difficult and DangerousHandling these plants, roots and vines are difficult, even when precautions of protective clothing and respirators are used. Tools must be washed with rubbing alcohol and copious amounts water. It is important to note that these plants should never be burned. Doing this releases this toxic oil into the air, potentially causing very serious allergic reactions.
Here are some safe tips for removing these plants, from the About.com Guide to Landscaping.