Poison proof your home for the holidays
OGALLALA, Neb. (Dec. 11, 2012) — The holidays are known to bring a greater volume of patients to the hospital for emergency care.
Unfortunately, many visits stem from preventable poisonings. From medications to Mistletoe, alcohol to scented oils, the decorations and household items that children encounter during the holidays often are not properly secured or child-proofed.
How does it happen? 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.
Ogallala Community Hospital physician Gabriel Godina, MD, said the hospital sees emergency visits for accidental ingestions or exposure to harmful items that are unique to the season.
“Prevention is, absolutely, the best treatment strategy when it comes to poisonings this time of year,” Dr. Godina said.
Here are some tips to avoid emergency room visits related to accidental poisoning:
- Medications often will be found in visitors’ purses or jackets. Holiday travelers tend to keep medications with them, making them easily accessible for children. Keep young children out of purses and away from flip-top medication sorters.
- 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.
- If you like to decorate with candles that require oil or those that are colorful and/or scented, 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.
- 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.
- Christmas tree preservatives are usually not toxic. Still, check the label for special ingredients and warnings.
- 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.
- Lead is also a hazard in some tree light wires. Wash hands before and after handling tree lights.
- Make sure small button batteries are not available to children. One swallowed battery can make a child very sick.
For more information, visit www.bannerhealth.com/poisoncenter.
ABOUT OGALLALA COMMUNITY HOSPITAL
Ogallala Community Hospital is an 18-bed hospital owned by Banner Health, one of the country’s largest nonprofit health care systems. OCH offers services including emergency care, inpatient services, infusion therapy, medical imaging, orthopedics, surgery and women’s services. www.BannerHealth.com/Ogallala.
ABOUT BANNER HEALTH
Headquartered in Phoenix, Banner Health is one of the largest, nonprofit health care systems in the country. The system manages 23 acute-care hospitals, the Banner Health Network and Banner Medical Group, long-term care centers, outpatient surgery centers and an array of other services including family clinics, home care and hospice services, and a nursing registry. Banner Health is in seven states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming.