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See what “holiday hazards” are lurking in your home

Holiday hazards for 2019

FOR RELEASE: Dec. 16, 2019

SYRACUSE, N.Y. –The holidays bring many new items, people and activities into our homes. The Upstate New York Poison Center wants to make sure you are aware of a special set of hazards this time of year. 

“This time of year with a house full of people, lots of distractions and new items in the house, it becomes easier for children to get into things that could be harmful or poisonous,” says Michele Caliva, administrative director at the Upstate New York Poison Center, “Take the time to become familiar with potential dangers and to childproof your home before holiday celebrations so you can ensure a safe and merry holiday season for your family.“

Here are tips to prevent items meant to bring joy, like colorful ornaments, festive refreshments and children's toys, and common medicines, from causing injury instead:

  • 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 may contain alcohol. Even small amounts can affect a child. Personal care products, like toothpaste and soaps, 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 contain lead. 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 the case of a poisoning or for information purposes, call the Upstate New York Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. We are open 24/7, 365 days a year. Each year our center manages more than 50,000 calls from health care providers, 911 operators, hospitals, industry, schools, and the general public in our 54-county service area.

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About Upstate New York Poison Center

Housed inside Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY, the Upstate New York Poison Center is dedicated to reducing the number, cost and severity of poisonings within its designated 54-county service area as mandated by New York State Law. The Center is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to both health professionals and the general public at 1-800-222-1222.

About Upstate Medical University

SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY, is the only academic medical center in Central New York. It is also the region's largest employer with 9,460 employees. Affiliated with the State University of New York, Upstate's mission is to improve the health of the community through education, biomedical research and health care.