The holidays are a wonderful time of year, but they also bring some specific poison hazards. Watch out for these specific items and scenarios
Toys and Gifts
Make sure that all gifts, even if wrapped, are safe for children. Watch out for button batteries, the small cylindrical batteries found in watches, hearing aids, and keychain flashlights. If swallowed, they can cause internal bleeding and even death.
Even small amounts of alcohol can have strong effects on a child’s central nervous system. Keep open beverages out of reach of children, especially drinks like mimosas that look or taste like fruit juice. If you have a party or gathering, always clean up leftover food and beverages immediately.
Travel, Guests, & Medication
Whenever you have guests, provide a safe place up high and out of reach of kids and pets to store purses, suitcases, and coats whose pockets may be full of medicines or vitamins. When you travel, make sure to keep prescription medications and over the counter medicines in child-resistant containers, not plastic zipper bags or pill keepers.
Holly Berries and Mistletoe Berries
The toxins in these berries may lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, so be sure to keep out of reach!
But good news–human ingestion of the poinsettia is nearly harmless, contrary to popular folklore. While the plant’s latex sap may irritate the skin, ingestion of the flower will likely cause no symptoms aside from occasional stomach discomfort.
Because of their sparking nature, young kids have a tendency to put lights in their mouths. Be extra careful around bubble lights, whose liquids can cause burns, irritation, and carbon monoxide exposure.
Bubble lights: These decorative lights are composed of an incandescent light and a liquid-filled vial. Heat generated by the light causes the liquid, often methylene chloride, to bubble up from the base of the vial. Exposure to methylene chloride may occur if these lights are broken or the liquid within them is spilled. In addition to causing burns and skin irritation (as well as the hazards of broken glass), methylene chloride is converted to toxic carbon monoxide
within the body, although the liquid from a single bubble light is usually not enough to cause serious poisoning.
Call the Washington Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 if you feel you or another individual have been poisoned by a holiday hazard or have any questions. Calls are free, confidential, and answered by healthcare professionals.