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Holiday Hazards to Avoid During the 2020 Holiday Season

Snowy scene outside a home

FOR RELEASE: December 16, 2020

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – 2020 has brought a great amount of change to our lives, including how we celebrate the holidays. While they might not look the same this year due to COVID-19, don’t forget common “holiday hazards” still remain in and around the home that could poison you or a loved one.

Here are a few tips to prevent items meant to bring joy from causing injury instead:

  • If you choose to gather together, keep suitcases and purses out of reach of children and pets.
  • Do not leave alcoholic drinks unattended. Even a small amount can be poisonous to a child.
  • Find a safe place now for your medication or a family member’s medication. Make sure medicines are up, away, and out of sight of children.
  • Mistletoe berries, Holly Berry and Jerusalem Cherry can be poisonous. If they are used in decorating, make sure children cannot reach them.
  • Don’t leave tobacco products like cigarettes or vape pens in view of children. Even a small amount of vape juice can be toxic to a child. Just one cigarette (or butt) swallowed by a child could mean a trip to an ER.
  • Have your heating system checked by a professional. Check the batteries in your carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Combat food poisoning by keeping hot food hot and cold food cold. Refrigerate or freeze any perishable food within two hours.
  • Wash your hands often and keep hand sanitizers out of the reach of children.
  • Many children’s toys contain lithium button batteries (flat, coin-like batteries). If eaten, they can get stuck in the throat or stomach and cause a blockage or serious burns.

To hear directly from our staff, watch our new “2020 Holiday Hazards” video to jog your memory on potential poisonings around the holidays.


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.

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