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Navigating Holiday Hazards for a Poison-Safe Holiday

Image of friends gathering for the holidays

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (December 19, 2023) – The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and togetherness. However, amidst the festive decorations and merriment, there are poisoning potentials.

Our number one call last December and this December is for pain medicine mishaps for all ages in the 54 counties we serve. That means an unintentional overdose, taking a double dose of a medicine, or a child getting into the wrong medicine. So far this December, our poison center is seeing a high number of calls for exposure to cleaning products and children who have swallowed something they shouldn’t like a battery or toys.

 “One way to safeguard against an unintentional exposure this holiday season is by storing purses and coats up high just in case loved ones bring along any medications that could harm little ones. Offer a safe place to store or a medication lock box,” says Mary Beth Dreyer, Upstate New York Poison Center Health Education Program Manager. “Remember, we are available 24/7, even during holidays, to help in times of need."

Common Poisoning Potentials

Decorative Plants: While visually appealing, certain decorative plants can be toxic if ingested. Keep these out of reach of kids and pets: mistletoe, holly berries, amaryllis, Jerusalem cherry, and yew. Remember to call for any plant ingestions to help keep yourself or a loved one safe.

Alcohol & Cannabis: Secure and keep out of reach of children during holiday parties.

Decorative Lights: Keep batteries and light bulbs away from small children, as they can be harmful if swallowed.

Medication: Keep suitcases and purses out of reach of children and pets. Designate a safe space for coats, purses, and bags.

Dinner Time: Combat food poisoning by keeping hot food hot and cold food cold. Refrigerate or freeze any perishable food within two hours.

Kids Toys: 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. Call our poison center or seek immediate medical attention if you think your child swallowed a button battery.

Household Chemicals: Never mix chemicals, use cleaning products in a well-ventilated area, and store them out of reach from children and pets.

To hear directly from our staff on these poison safety tips and others, watch our new “2023 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.