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Holiday Hazards

The Nebraska Regional Poison Center wishes you a happy and
safe holiday season!

The Nebraska Regional Poison Center offers the following tips for preparing your home during the holiday season:

  • Keep hazardous plants, decorations, and gifts out of reach of small children or pets.
  • Clean up immediately following all holiday parties so that alcohol and other potentially harmful items are not within reach of young children.
  • Remember, prevention is the best treatment for poisonings.

Plants:

It’s best to keep Jerusalem Cherry plants, ivy and boxwood far above the reach of curious admirers. All parts of the mistletoe plant are toxic. Holly berries have caused stomach upset, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Pine needles can be very irritating to the mouth and can lodge in the windpipe. It’s best to avoid purchasing toxic seasonal items for your home. Substitute nontoxic alternatives whenever possible. View the Poisonous and Non-Poisonous plants on our site.

Decorations:

  • Angel hair is spun glass. If you use it at all, keep it high out of reach. It can cause irritation to the eyes, skin and mouth.
  • Bubble lights contain methylene chloride and this chemical can cause drowsiness, and in large quantities it can cause seizures.
  • Fireplace colors can contain a variety of heavy metals such as lead, copper, arsenic, barium and selenium. Stomach upset with vomiting is just one of the many problems these metals can cause.
  • Snow Sprays may produce nausea, vomiting, headache and drowsiness. These symptoms may develop from inhaling the fumes. Make sure you ventilate the room and take frequent breaks when applying snow sprays.
  • Christmas tree preservative solution contains primarily glucose but some formulations may include small amounts of fertilizers and iron salts. These have the potential to cause stomach and oral irritation.

Gifts:

Don’t leave presents under the tree after they’reopened. A child may drink a gift of liquor, perfume or aftershave containing concentrated alcohol. These products can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sleepiness, stupor and low blood sugar in children. Other gifts such as radios, cameras, and games can contain button batteries which can cause drooling, difficulty swallowing and difficulty breathing and if ingested.

The Christmas Turkey:

  • Thaw in the refrigerator, allowing one to three days for complete thawing. If time isn’t allowed, immerse the bird in water-tight wrapper in cold water, continue adding ice to avoid turkey reaching room temperature.
  • Wash hands thoroughly before dressing the bird to minimize chance of contamination from bacteria on hands.
  • The safest method to determine when the turkey is cooked is to place a meat thermometer inside the thigh muscle (or thickest part of breast). It should read 180-185 degrees for normal turkey. For stuffed turkey, place thermometer in the stuffing. The thermometer here should register at 165 degrees.
  • After cooking, remove the stuffing. Do not allow stuffing to cool inside the turkey.
  • Refrigerate turkey, gravy, and stuffing after meal. Room temperature is not sufficient.

If you suspect your child has been poisoned, call the Nebraska Regional Poison Center immediately, 1-800-222-1222 or in the Omaha area 955-5555.

Happy Holiday's!