2006-12-28 / News

Poison prevention tips for the holidays

Holiday festivities and winter weather bring an increased risk for poisoning. These are some steps from the Rhode Island Department of Health you can take to prevent poisoning.

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

CO is a poisonous gas that comes from burning fuel. To prevent CO poisoning: • Have a professional technician

check your furnace every year.

• Make sure the technician checks

your chimneys for proper airflow.

• Do not leave a fire burning in the

fireplace or run a space heater

while you are sleeping.

• Install a CO detector in your home and check the batteries at least every six months.

Plants and Decorations

Holiday decorations present a source of hazards for children. Children may be drawn to eat certain colorful holiday plants, or to put other colorful decorative items in their mouths. Prevention tips include: • Keep ornamental plants such as Holly, Mistletoe, and Jerusalem Cherry out of the reach of children.

They can be poisonous if


• Christmas Cactus and Poinsettia are not poisonous when eaten. However, eating many leaves of these plants may cause mild stomach upset. In addition, the sap of the Poinsettia plant may cause a skin rash, and should be washed off with mild soap and warm water.


The winter season is often a time when more medications, such as cough remedies and antibiotics, are used in the home. Visitors may also unintentionally leave potentially toxic personal care products or medications out. Some simple steps you can take to prevent medication poisoning are: • Do not leave medicine in an area

easily accessible to children.

• Do not mix medicines, exceed

dosages, or use other people’s


• Read your medication labels and be aware of any warnings about possible side effects (e.g., drowsiness) and alcohol consumption while taking prescription or

over-the-counter medications.

If someone has been poisoned, call the Center for Poison Control and Prevention at 1-800-222-1222.

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