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Holiday Hazards to Avoid During the 2022 Holiday Season 

Holiday Hazards from the Upstate New York Poison Center

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – With the busy holiday season, inevitably, comes calls to our poison center for an unintentional poisoning. Mistakes happen and we are here to help keep this top of mind this holiday season.

Our number one call last December and this December for all ages in the 54 counties we serve, is for pain medicine mishaps. That means an unintentional overdose, taking a double dose of a medicine, or a child getting into the wrong medicine. Each year around 50,000 young children are rushed to an emergency room because they got into medicines that were left within reach. To date, the Upstate New York Poison Center has handled nearly 17,000 cases for an unintentional poisoning in children 12 and under.

So far this December, our poison center is seeing a high number of calls for children who have swallowed something they shouldn’t like a battery, slime, or toys.

“One of the easiest things you can do right now, is keep all medicines, alcohol, vape pens, cannabis products, up high and out of sight of children,” says Mary Beth Dreyer, Public Health Educator at the Upstate New York Poison Center. “Also, secure all toy battery compartments, remove loose parts that a child could put in their mouth, and read the labels on gifts. It takes seconds to think about making your home poison-free and it could save a life.”

Here are reminders to prevent items meant to bring joy from causing injury instead:

  • Keep suitcases and purses out of reach of children and pets. Designate a safe space for coats, purses, and bags.
  • 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 a hospital.
  • Do not leave alcoholic drinks unattended. A small amount can be poisonous to a child.
  • Mistletoe berries, Holly Berry and Jerusalem Cherry can be poisonous. If they are used in decorating, make sure children cannot reach them.
  • Combat food poisoning by keeping hot food hot and cold food cold. Refrigerate or freeze any perishable food within two hours.
  • Many children’s toys contain lithium button batteries (flat, coin-like batteries). If eaten, they can get stuck in the throat or on the way to the stomach and cause a blockage or serious burns.
  • As you clean, remember to never mix chemicals, use cleaning products in a well-ventilated area, and store out of reach from children and pets.
  • Save our number, 1-800-222-1222, and call for a poisoning emergency or to ask a medication question.

To hear directly from our staff, watch our new “2022 Holiday Hazards” video, and jog your memory on potential poisonings around the holidays (feel free to link on your website).

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.