Staying Safe During the Holidays

For most of us, the holiday season is usually a time of glad tidings and great joy but alas it also brings the potential for poisonings. No, we’re not talking about offing your annoying aunt, we’re referring to the accidental kind!

To help keep our Word on Health readers safe during the festivities we’ve teamed up with our friends from the Drug and Poison Information Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, to bring you the following tips:

  • While the odd eggnog or glass or two of champagne may be good, providing you’re not driving, too much, or the wrong sort of alcohol may be toxic. And remember, alcohol is found not only in adult beverages but in gifts such as cologne and perfumes. We recommend you remove all alcoholic drinks and gifts that contain alcohol out of reach of children.
  • Poinsettias may be pretty but they can cause irritation. Children who play with the Poinsettia plant leaves and then rub their eyes can experience redness and irritation.
  • Though berries may add a festive touch to your table centerpiece, a few, of the 400+ varieties of holly are said to be poisonous. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and a slowing down of breathing and heart rate can occur after ingestion of holly berries.
  • Toys can contain button or disc batteries. These small, shiny coin-shaped objects are often found in handheld games, watches and other portable devices. If swallowed they can become lodged in the esophagus and cause serious injury and death.
  • Jerusalem Cherries allegedly contain solanine, the same poison found in deadly nightshade. Reported signs and symptoms of solanine poisoning include dilated pupils, salivation, nausea, vomiting, headache, bloating, diarrhea, respiratory depression, central nervous system depression, confusion, irregular heartbeat, coma and death. Not nice!  Probably better to keep these out of your house this yuletide.
  • Essential oils can be used with great effect to scent the house over the holidays. However ingredients in some essential oils such as salicylates in oil of wintergreen, menthol, camphor, eucalyptol, can be extremely toxic if ingested.
  • Similarly, although you can create all sorts of cool effects with dry ice, whether you cook or decorate with it, be careful to avoid skin contact. Dry ice is composed of carbon dioxide which can cause tissue damage to the skin, and burns to the mouth if ingested.

And while you’re thinking about safety don’t forget to protect your pets during the holidays. Our four-legged friends can get into every bit as much mischief as their owners.

So here’s to a safe and happy holiday….but if it does all go horribly wrong, remember you can call the National Poison Center any time of day or night.

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