Holiday PoisoningDec 24, 2013
Marty Malheiro: Holiday poisons are a major concern this time of year. Holly, mistletoe, and poinsettias are the most problematic plants we talk about. Which one is not poisonous? I'm Marty Malheiro, the Outreach Coordinator at the Utah Poison Control Center. This is coming up next on The Scope Radio.
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Marty Malheiro: It's often a big surprise. Everyone thinks that poinsettias are so poisonous. This has been a myth throughout the ages, but in reality, the beautiful poinsettia plant is not toxic. It's not poisonous. It could cause a little rash on the skin from the sap that's in it, but eating the leaves, eating the part of the plant isn't going to be harmful at all. The mistletoe and the holly are definitely concerns, and you want to keep those away from small children and pets.
Some other poisons that we run into this time of year are all kinds of Christmas decorations. Tinsel can be a choking hazard for a pet or a small child. Also if glass ornaments break at all, any sharp edges are definitely a choking hazard.
Fireplaces. The color crystals that you can buy to throw into your fire that causes beautiful colored flames are very toxic. Again, an adult is not going to get into that, but for a small child or a pet, those could be very harmful.
The bubble lights, which are very popular and very attractive, but the fluid that's in the bubbling part is also very toxic. So if you use products like this, wonderful decorations, just be very mindful that they are a source of poisoning.
Some other areas of poisoning that we see calls increase with is with so many toys and electronic devices being given as gifts, they all use some kind of battery, in particular the very small button batteries. This is a very dangerous source of poisoning for small children.
They orally explore things, they put it in their mouths, and these things get stuck down their airway at some point. These things can cause severe burns and obstruction. So if you're going to have these kinds of batteries around, always make sure that you keep them up and out of reach of small children.
The garage is a source of poisoning this kind of year with antifreeze, windshield washer fluid, and even the ice melt to keep ice off of sidewalks and driveways. Small, small amounts of the windshield washer fluid and antifreeze can be very harmful, even deadly, to a toddler or even a pet licking it off of the garage floor. So you always make sure that that's cleaned up if there's any spilled.
The ice melts are very attractive little crystals. They often look like candy-like Nerds. Whereas adults won't be eating this, small children might see it and open the bag. So keep that product up and out of reach of small children.
I just want to caution everyone to have a wonderful holiday, but if there's any source of poisoning, please keep it out of reach and range of small children. We hope that your holidays are happy, healthy, and safe, but if you have any concern related to a poisoning, I want you to know that we're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for any kind of poisoning or even a question related to a poisoning. We've got medical nurses and pharmacists available around the clock, so you'll get a live person and get expert help.
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