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Holiday Hazards

Holiday Poisoning Hazards

Preparations for the holidays are happy, hectic times that can double the risk of toxic exposures. Not only are attractive items brought into the home, but the disruption of the household routine means less supervision of curious children. Even safe homes can become hazardous when visitors bring purses with pills in them. Other hazards include:

Poinsettia: This plant is actually not very toxic, but the sap can be irritating. If a piece has been chewed, clear the mouth of plant material and offer something to drink.

Christmas Berry: The leaves and crushed pits are poisonous if a large amount is swallowed.

Holly: Eating a few berries can cause vomiting, cramps and diarrhea.

Mistletoe: Eating berries can cause vomiting, cramps and diarrhea. Large amounts can cause high blood pressure, seizures and confusion.

Christmas trees: The evergreens are non-toxic with the exception of the Yew, which has red cup-like fruits on its branches. The leaves and seed pits are toxic. Be careful what is added to the water in the Christmas tree stand. Pets may drink it and some preservatives are toxic.

Christmas tree ornaments: Antique or imported ornaments may have a lead-based paint which would be a hazard if ingested.

Tinsel: While non-toxic, these shiny icicles can cause airway or intestinal blockage if eaten by children or pets. Veterinarians perform at least one operation each Christmas season to remove tinsel from pets’ intestines.

Angel Hair: This tree decoration is made of spun glass that causes irritation upon contact.

Bubble Lights: These lights contain a poisonous liquid called methylene chloride that can be a danger if the fluid from several lights is swallowed.

Alcohol: Alcohol poisons children by causing a drop in their blood sugar and by making them dangerously drowsy. A combination of these two factors can cause coma. Holiday alcohol is available in many forms: perfume given as a gift, mixed drinks leftover after a party, or even mouthwash by the bathroom sink.

For an emergency or question about poisons, call the Poison Center toll-free 24 hour hotline 1-800-222-1222

For a free poison prevention information package, call our administrative line at (813) 844-7044 or write:
FL Poison Information Center,
Tampa General Hospital, P.O.Box 1289,
Tampa, FL 33601

The Florida Poison Information Center wishes you and your family
a healthy and happy holiday season!