Holiday safety tips from the Banner Churchill Medical Center Emergency Medical Services team:
"The sap of the poinsettia is bitter and unpleasant, but the plant is not deadly," says Steve Towne, Emergency Medical Services Director.
"That has become one of the urban legends over the years. Poinsettias are listed as a toxic plant because they will cause irritation in the mouth if ingested and possibly vomiting. This is especially true with pets as they attempt to erase the bad taste from their mouths."
Holly and mistletoe
“Both holly and mistletoe are very toxic if ingested,” Towne says.
Berries of both plants can cause severe stomach illness or other problems. Real berries on both holly and mistletoe are often replaced with artificial berries that could pose a choking hazard if swallowed by a child.
Pine trees are not poisonous but pine needles can be dangerous if a child tries to eat them. It is a good idea to keep the area under the tree clean, especially as the tree dries out and the needles fall more frequently, Towne advises.
If a poisoning has occurred
Don't panic. Usually, a large amount of a poisonous plant must be eaten to cause severe symptoms and hospitalizations are rare.
- Remove any of the remaining plant from the mouth.
- Wash around the mouth and the hands.
- Call the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center at 1(800) 222-1222
- Follow the nurse's instructions.
Other holiday hazards to children and pets
- Lamp oils can cause severe damage to the stomach linings
- Some aromatic oils can cause a deadly form of pneumonia in the lungs or seizures if swallowed.
- Children can find alcohol leftover from holiday parties, often in drink glasses that haven't been cleaned or in egg nog.