Banner Health News Center  

Banner Good Sam Poison and Drug Information Center provides holiday safety tips


PHOENIX (Nov. 30, 2012) — The holidays are known to bring a greater volume of emergency patients to Valley hospitals. What is unfortunate is that many visits are due to preventable poisonings, the Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center warns.

From medications to mistletoe, alcohol to scented oils, the decorations and household items that children are usually exposed to during the holidays are often not properly secured and out-of-reach, according to the poison center.

Poisoning during the holiday season is an unfortunate circumstance—especially when the advised precautions to prevent these poisonings are not taken. Pills may be left within a child’s reach or taken incorrectly by the visitor in your home. The bright colors and scents of oils and diffusers spark curiosity. These issues and others can lead to an anxious hospital visit and interrupted holiday celebration.

Tips to avoid emergency room visits related to accidental poisoning:

  • Visitor’s purses and suitcases are often where you will find medications. Holiday travelers tend to keep medications with them, making them easily accessible for children. Keep the young children out of purses and away from flip top medication sorters.
  • If you like use scented oils or diffusers during the holidays, please be sure to keep them out of a child’s reach. These can cause severe damage to the stomach lining and some aromatic oils can cause a deadly form of pneumonia in the lungs or seizures if swallowed.
  • Make sure small button batteries are not available to children. One swallowed battery can make a child very sick.
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) is a silent killer. Do not use gas-powered appliances such as ranges, ovens or clothes dryers to heat your home. In addition, do not use camp stoves, charcoal grills or hibachis inside your home or in the garage. Install a battery-operated CO detector in your home, especially near heating sources, and check it at least once a year to make sure it still works.
  • Though they’re not the fatal poisons that they were once believed to be, poinsettias, if consumed, can cause some mild gastrointestinal discomfort and vomiting. Keep small children and animals away from other seasonal plants, including mistletoe berries, holly berries, the fruit of Jerusalem cherry, the leaves and twigs of boxwood and all parts of yew plants.
  • Snow spray and bubble lights may contain methylene chloride, which can be poisonous if enough is eaten. Keep the products out-of-reach if they contain this solvent.
  • The prettiest old ornaments might have hidden hazards. Beware of cuts from broken glass, and be aware that some older ornaments may be decorated with harmful lead paints that can be toxic.
  • Keep cleaning supplies and alcohol in their original containers and away from children. Do not count on your own labeling of bottles to get the information needed if someone should drink or spill it by mistake.
  •  Do not keep non-edible items in the refrigerator. A quick grab of something to eat or drink could lead to trouble.
  •  Christmas tree preservatives are usually not toxic. Still, check the label for special ingredients and warnings.

The Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center provides vital information to Maricopa County and all Arizona residents. The Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center manages more than 109,000 documented calls.


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