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The Upstate New York Poison Center issues tips to prevent poisoning during the holiday season

The Upstate New York Poison Center issues tips to prevent poisoning during the holiday season

The holidays bring many new items, people and activities into our homes, which means that families need to be aware of a special set of hazards.  The Upstate Poison Center, a part of Upstate Medical University, has issued tips to prevent items meant to bring joy, like colorful ornaments, festive refreshments and children's toys, and common medicines, from causing injury instead.

“Along with seasonal items coming into the home, we also welcome more guests and visit more homes,” said Lee Livermore, public education coordinator at the Upstate Poison Center. “This can expose households to medications and substances that are new to them. Sometimes the look-alike factor can make that especially dangerous, so it is best to keep these items up and away.”

 The look-alike factor refers to potentially toxic substances that resemble safe, familiar substances, an idea that is particularly hazardous for children. Many medications may look like candy, or cleaning solutions not in their original package could be mistaken for juice.

 Here are some tips to prevent poisoning this holiday season:

  • If you are traveling for the holidays or having people in your home, be sure to keep suitcases and purses out of the reach of children and pets. Mouthwashes, liquid hand sanitizers, perfumes and colognes which may contain alcohol. Even small amounts can affect a child. Personal care products, like toothpaste and soaps, which can cause vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Keep alcohol, including baking extracts, out of reach and do not leave alcoholic drinks unattended.
  • Color additives used in fireplace fires are a toxic product and should be stored out of reach.
  • Artificial snow can be harmful if inhaled, so use it in a well-vented space.
  • Mistletoe berries, Holly Berry and Jerusalem Cherry can be poisonous. If they are used in decorating, make sure children and pets cannot reach it. Fake berries are a potential choking hazard.
  • Eating even small amounts of tobacco products can be harmful causing nausea, vomiting and potentially seizures. Two cigarettes, ingested by a child, can mean a trip to an Emergency Department.
  • Many children’s toys, watches, cameras, hearing aids, games and calculators may contain button batteries (flat, coin-like batteries). If eaten, button batteries usually pass through the body in the stool, but sometimes they get stuck in the throat or stomach, which can cause blockage or serious burns.
  • Some foil and colored gift-wrap contains lead. Be sure to read product labels and do not let pets and children chew on these items.
  • Chocolate is poisonous to dogs. Darker chocolate is more harmful than milk chocolate. The chocolate can cause excited behavior, muscle tremors, fast heart beat and even seizures.


In a poison emergency or for information, call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222

Please program your cell phone with the number of the Poison Center

Visit us on the web at www.upstatepoison.org