Holiday Hazards

Many emergency calls come into the poison center during the holidays. Poisonings occur when there is a change in routine or a distraction. Visiting with friends and family, obtaining new items, party preparation and decoration can disrupt normal routines. Our major concerns are children’s access to medications brought into the house by visitors and alcohol and tobacco products that are left within easy reach.

Here are some poison prevention tips to make the season safer:

  • Do not let alcohol be a tempting snack for little ones. Even small amounts of alcohol may affect a child causing them to pass out or vomit. Clean up immediately after parties.
  • Eating small amounts of tobacco products may cause nausea and vomiting. Large amounts may cause convulsions. Keep all tobacco out of the reach of children.
  • Many people keep medication in their travel bags. Keep pocketbooks, backpacks and other carryall bags up high and out of reach.
  • Poinsettia is not a poisonous plant, however mistletoe and holly may be toxic when eaten. A 50-lb. child would have to eat more than one pound, about 500 leaves, of a poinsettia plant to experience symptoms such as an upset stomach, nausea and diarrhea.
  • Tree ornaments can be metal, plastic or ceramic and can pose a choking hazard if swallowed. Remind children to look at the tree, not touch it.
  • Bubble lights may contain methylene chloride or ethanol, which can be a problem if the liquid is swallowed.
  • Be aware when visiting or having gatherings during the holidays. Greater parental supervision may be required during these times to prevent accidental poisonings.
  • Place the number to your poison center near the phone. The toll-free, nationwide number is 1-800-222-1222.