57565372During the holidays most people plan to call distant family and friends — not their poison center.

Yet, poisonings can happen because of changes in routine and increased distractions caused by the festivities. Alcohol and tobacco products may be left within easy reach. Visitors’ suitcases and purses, which sometimes contain medicine and other toxic substances, may be especially interesting to young children.

Here are some poison prevention tips to make your holiday season safer. 

Holiday Travel

  • Keep suitcases and purses closed and out of reach. Children like to explore.
  • If you are traveling with medications, placed them high out of reach of children and pets. Know how many pills are in each container and keep a record.

Party Food and Beverages

Food poisoning can happen any time of year, but it’s especially important to be cautious when you’re making a lot of food in a busy kitchen.

Action Steps

  • Keep cold food cold and hot foods hot! Do not leave food out longer than two hours. Food that is left at room temperature too long may have bacteria or toxins that can’t be destroyed by reheating and could cause food poisoning.
  • Wash your counters, utensils and hands thoroughly with hot, soapy water both before and after preparing food.
  • Use separate cutting boards for meats and vegetables.
  • Empty all alcoholic drinks immediately, not the next day. Even small amounts of alcohol may affect a child. Clean up immediately after parties.
  • Dispose of all tobacco products, so that children cannot get into them. Eating small amounts of tobacco products may cause nausea and vomiting. Large amounts may cause seizures.

Decorating for the Holidays

Take care as you deck out your home this season. Mistletoe, holly and Jerusalem cherry can be harmful if eaten. Poinsettias and Christmas cactus are not considered toxic for people, but Christmas cactus may cause vomiting or diarrhea in cats and dogs.

Ornaments and other decorations like tinsel can be choking hazards for children and pets, and some older ornaments may contain lead. Angel hair consists of spun glass which can cause eye or mouth irritation.

Some bubble lights contain methylene chloride which is poisonous.

Action Steps

  • Keep holiday plants out of reach of children and pets, and know which ones can be poisonous.
  • Place any ornaments that could be dangerous up high on the tree and out of reach of children and pets.
  • When using decorative sprays, have good ventilation and keep children away.
  • Keep poisonous plants up high and out of reach of children and pets.

Save the poison center number in your phone today: 1-800-222-1222. Call 24/7 for expert advice. 

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