PHOENIX (Nov. 17,2023) – Now that the holiday season is here, Banner Poison Centers are warning people to remain vigilant about some things that could potentially ruin your festivities. The Banner Poison and Drug Information Center has already seen an increase in carbon monoxide poisoning this fall, with nearly 50 calls since Oct. 1. The center has also seen an increase in potential food poisoning cases and other accidental household exposures.
“Now is also the perfect time to check your carbon monoxide and fire alarms,” said Maureen Roland, RN, managing director at the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center. “When preparing your holiday meals, be sure to wash your hands, kitchen surfaces, utensils and cutting boards frequently. Bacteria on raw meat, poultry or fish can contaminate surfaces.” Also, make sure to cook all foods to minimum internal temperatures and wash all produce well.
Having relatives and other guests visit, or making such visits yourself, is an important part of celebrating the season. But visiting often sets the stage for accidents that may have serious consequences. Whether you are guest or host, remember:
- Be very alert about the location of all medications in the house. Never leave prescription or over-the-counter drugs in purses, pockets, suitcases, or furnishings that can be easily accessible to children. Experts recommend disposing of any unneeded or expired medications. Any current medicines should be stored in a locked or out-of-reach space during the visit and each person’s medications should be clearly labeled, so no mix-ups occur. Visit https://www.azdhs.gov/gis/rx-drop-off-locations/index.php for a list of disposal locations.
- Be equally vigilant about the location of all alcoholic beverages – in and out of the bottle.
Even a small amount of alcohol can be dangerous to a young child. Appoint one person to watch the children during a gathering that includes alcohol and clean up all alcoholic beverages immediately after guests leave.
- Watch the smoke and vaping. Cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco contain enough nicotine to be dangerous to children, who have been known to eat whole cigarettes. Also, liquid nicotine refills for electronic cigarettes come in many flavors that could tempt kids. The liquid can be life threatening if they decide to swallow it.
Poinsettias do not contain fatal poisons, but if small children or pets chew these holiday decorations, they may experience stomach discomfort or even vomiting. More dangerous to tots and animals are mistletoe berries, holly berries and the fruit of the Jerusalem cherry—make sure these plants are not where the young and curious can reach them.
Toys, decorations and other devices use batteries. Be very cautious that youngsters are not playing with or removing the batteries. Small button batteries are particularly easy to swallow and U.S. poison centers report about 3,500 such incidents a year. Call Banner Poison and Drug Information Center immediately if you suspect a child has swallowed a battery. This is a medical emergency. Parents are also warned to keep small magnets out of reach, as these too represent a serious condition if swallowed.
Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide monitor in your house before using fireplaces, kerosene, or propane heaters. An annual check of your furnace is also a good idea. As the cold weather takes hold, unnecessary, and potentially deadly carbon monoxide poisonings increase. Do not use gas stoves, barbecues, or gas grills to heat your home.
About the Arizona Poison Centers
The poison and drug information center at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix provides free and confidential poison control and medication information to the public and healthcare professionals. The hotline operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call (800) 222-1222 from any location to reach the poison center nearest you.