Increased Risk of Poisoning During Holiday Season


December 17, 2007


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The New Mexico Poison and Drug Information Center wishes everyone a Happy Holiday. As you celebrate with family and friends, keep in mind the increased chance of common poisonings this time of year. During the holiday season, many normal household routines are disrupted, and festive objects are brought into the home. Some of these potentially hazardous objects include plants, holiday decorations, cigarettes and cigars, foods and alcohol.

Plants brought into the home can pose a poisoning hazard to children and pets. Mistletoe, holly, Jerusalem cherry, Christmas rose and Christmas berry can poison curious children. Keep all poisonous household and holiday plants where children cannot reach them.

Decorations on the Christmas tree are attractive to children and pets, but many of the items that make the tree pretty can be hazardous. Bulbs, lights, tinsel, and tree preservatives may be a choking hazard or contain poisonous substances such as lead. Other holiday items to keep out of the reach of children include angel hair, batteries, concentrated food flavorings, fireplace crystals, smoke pellets for toys, aerosol snow spray and evergreen scent spray. Keep poisonous products locked up where children cannot see them or reach them.

Alcohol is a serious poisoning threat all year, especially for young children. It can cause serious illness and even death. During the holiday season be aware of alcoholic beverages including spiked eggnog and punch, beer, wine and distilled liquor, as well as candies containing alcohol. Alcohol can exist in mouthwash and in common gifts such as cologne, perfume, and aftershave. Children may be attracted to these gifts because of their sweet fragrance and pretty packaging. Because of the abundance of alcohol, and increased risk of alcohol poisoning during the holiday season, it is important to keep alcohol where children cannot reach it.

Food Poisoning may occur more frequently during the holiday season because food often sits at room temperature longer than usual during holiday feasts, providing opportunities for bacteria to grow. Be careful to use proper food handling and cooking techniques when preparing and storing food, especially meat. Keep hot food hot and cold food cold and refrigerate all leftovers.

For more holiday safety information, visit our web site:

Call the New Mexico Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for a poisoning emergency, questions about poisons or for poison prevention information, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our Drug Information Service is available 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Contact: Lauren Cruse, 272-3322

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