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Top Reasons People Call Poison Control During the Holidays

The holidays are in full swing. While celebrations are in order, that doesn’t mean danger can’t happen at a moment’s notice. Here are some of the top reasons people call Poison Control during the festive season.

1. Food Poisoning

Few things ruin the appetite faster than a case of food poisoning. Food-borne illnesses affect one in six Americans each year, resulting in the deaths of 3,000 people and the hospitalizations of another 128,000.

If you plan to cook for guests, follow these food safety rules:

  • Never leave perishable foods out longer than two hours
  • Be sure meat dishes are adequately cooked, and serve hot foods at optimal temperatures
  • Perishable cold dishes should be kept cool on a bed of ice or in a cooling tray
  • Keep raw meat away from ready-to-serve food

2. Alcohol

The good cheer of this season often compels people to drink more than they normally do. The more you drink, especially in a short period of time, the greater your risk of alcohol poisoning, which is more common during the holidays.

At a minimum, drinking too much alcohol can lead to a hangover the next day. However, serious incidents of alcohol poisoning that require hospitalization are higher during the holidays, as is drunk driving.

Seek immediate medical care if a person exhibits some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Blue-tinged or pale skin
  • Low body temperature
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Unconsciousness and can’t be awakened

The best bet is to encourage everyone to pace themselves, alternate each drink with a glass of water, and be sure to have a designated driver.

3. Medications

Holiday cheer isn’t the only thing that spreads this time of year, as cold and respiratory virus season approaches. Be sure to use medications as directed:

  • Only take the directed amount of medication
  • Store medicine out of reach of children
  • Read all labels before taking medication

Check to make sure cold medications don’t negatively interact with other prescriptions or dietary supplements. Many cold medications contain acetaminophen or ibuprofen (pain relievers and fever reducers), and you could double dose if you are taking both.

4. Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is highest during cold weather. Potential sources of carbon monoxide include faulty furnace operation, charcoal or kerosene heaters, coal, wood or gas stoves, and running cars in attached garages. One of the primary ways to prevent CO poisoning is through yearly maintenance of gas-burning appliances, according to the CDC.

Symptoms of CO exposure include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion

If you think you or a loved one might have carbon monoxide poisoning, call the poison control hotline or seek medical attention immediately.

5. Toy Hazards

It’s the season of giving, and gifts are most likely on your list. However, your gifting may pose a poison risk. Be aware of items that may include button batteries or small magnets. When swallowed, these powerful magnets can cause a blockage in the digestive system. Keep these out of reach of children. Make sure to secure button batteries in the item and supervise children when playing with toys that contain button batteries.

Poison Help 24/7

If a poisoning happens, don’t waste time and call Poison Control (1-800-222-1222) right away. Help is available 24/7. It’s 100% free and confidential.