The holiday season is a time for celebration and happiness. Research shows that the number of poisoning incidents involving children rises during the holiday season. During the hustle and bustle of the holidays it is easy to overlook items in the home that could cause a poisoning. The Nebraska Regional Poison Center would like to offer a few tips on how to make this “the most wonderful time of the year.”
- Visiting relatives may bring their medications. Each year, 59,000 children go to emergency departments for poisonings and 48% of those cases involve grandparents’ medications. When visitors arrive for the holidays be sure to store their medications up and out of reach.
- Disc batteries may be found in toys, games, watches, remotes and musical greeting cards. If swallowed they can become lodged and cause serious injury or death if not removed. Last year, more than 2,100 children swallowed disc batteries. This was a 14% increase from the year before. Also avoid toys that contain magnets since they may be harmful if swallowed.
- Alcohol is found in holiday drinks and in gifts such as perfume and cologne. It is important to clean up immediately following all holiday parties. Remove all items that may contain alcohol and keep out of reach of small children. Remember to empty all ashtrays – only a few cigarette butts swallowed is enough to harm a child.
- Lamp oil in candle lamps is frequently used this time of year. These fuels look like pretty beverages to small children but can cause serious consequences if swallowed. Aroma and fragrance oils smell good and attract small children, but can cause vomiting and seizures in large amounts.
- Keep small children and animals away from seasonal plants such as mistletoe, holly berries, yew plants and poinsettias. Poinsettias are not the fatal poison that they were once believed to be, but in large amounts can cause upset stomach.
- Be mindful of icicles or tinsel as both can be a choking hazard if swallowed. Snow sprays help with holiday décor, but the pressurized container may cause eye damage if sprayed directly in the eye. Glitter can be irritating to the eyes and lungs.
- Remember your pets this holiday season. Chocolate, raisins, grapes and some nuts can be very toxic to animals.
Prevention is the best treatment for poisonings. The Nebraska Poison Center offers tips on holiday safety and poison prevention as a free community service to the public. If you have questions, contact the Nebraska Regional Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. Nurse specialists are available 24/7 to assist you.