Poison safety vital this holiday season

During the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it is easy to overlook unsuspecting items in the home that could pose a real hazard.

“Poisonings often occurs when normal routines are disrupted, as is common during the holidays,” says Carissa McBurney, community outreach coordinator for the West Virginia Poison Center.

To help ensure that your holiday season is safe and merry, stay aware of the following potential hazards:

– Decorations: Although glass candle lamps filled with liquid fuels are beautiful during this time of year, the liquid fuels can be very dangerous if swallowed. Many of these fuels may look like pretty beverages. Be sure to keep products in their original container and out of children’s reach.

Snow spray may help make your decor realistic, but be careful as the pressurized container may cause eye damage if sprayed directly into the eye. As with all products, follow the warning labels and directions on the container.

– Food: Food and celebrations are part of the joy of the holidays, but be sure to take proper precautions to avoid food poisoning. Make sure all meats are thoroughly cooked and do not use the same plate before cooking and after cooking to avoid cross-contamination. Keep hot food hot and cold food cold. If food is left at room temperature for a long period, discard all food that would require refrigeration.

– Alcohol: Alcohol can be very dangerous to children, as well as to pets. Keep all alcohol products out of children and pet’s reach. During the holidays when parties and celebrations are taking place, children are more apt to drink unfinished alcoholic beverages. Clean up all alcohol immediately following dinner or parties.

Be careful with mixing alcohol with medications. Alcohol can interact with medications in different ways and can lead to minor or life-threatening


– Toys: Although many precautions have been taken to make toys safe for children, some toys being sold are still unsafe. Always stay up-to-date on toy recalls and toys containing unsafe chemicals. Most children’s products using small batteries are required to have a secured compartment to lessen the chance of accidental exposures. However, children can still swallow these batteries if not secured. Do not allow children to play with button batteries or items whose batteries are easily accessible. If the battery becomes lodged in the throat, esophagus, stomach, or intestine, the outcome can be potentially fatal. Also, do not purchase magnetic toy sets or novelty items if there are young children in the home as these high-powered magnets can also have devastating consequences if swallowed.

If you suspect a poisoning has occurred, do not wait for symptoms to appear. Call the West Virginia Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. Medical experts at the West Virginia Poison Center are available 24/7, even on the holiday, to answer calls about poison emergencies and poison questions.

The West Virginia Poison Center provides comprehensive emergency poison information, prevention and educational resources to West Virginians 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The WVPC is staffed by nurses, pharmacists and physicians with special training in treatment of poisonings.

Located in Charleston, the WVPC is a part of the West Virginia University-Charleston Division. For more information, call toll-free at 1-800-222-1222, or go to www.wvpoisoncenter.org.