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Poison prevention tips to keep holidays merry

Children act fast, and so do poisons.

Over the holiday break, children often spend time visiting grandparents and friends who may not have thought about &#8220poison-proofing” their homes for visitors.

University of Missouri Extension Housing Specialist Rebecca Blocker cautions, &#8220When it comes to poisoning and young children, there is no substitute for prevention. Holiday gatherings, parties, and decorating create opportunities for curious children to explore, experiment and sometimes find themselves in trouble that can be life threatening.”

Many of the calls the Poison Center staff receives during the holidays are alcohol-related. Even moderate amounts of alcohol can be lethal to a young child. Other sources for potential holiday poisonings include toiletries, plants, batteries, and visitor’s medicines.

University of Missouri Extension offers the several tips from the Poison Control Center to help keep your holidays merry.

Poinsettias have an undeserved reputation for being poisonous. Enjoy a beautiful poinsettia. A 50-pound child would have to eat more than one pound, or about 500 leaves, of a poinsettia plant to experience symptoms such as an upset stomach, nausea and diarrhea.

Holly, mistletoe, balsam, juniper, cedar, pines and fir may be harmful if swallowed. Mistletoe and holly are especially toxic, and the berries can look very appetizing. With young children in the home, avoid using greens and berries, or at least place them out of children’s reach.

In addition to being in beer, wine, cocktails and punches, alcohol also is in such popular gifts as shaving lotion, perfume and cologne. Don’t leave bottles of toiletries or perfumes where young children can reach them. Never give children alcohol. Empty beverage glasses and place them out of the reach of curious children.

Disc batteries commonly used in watches, cameras, and calculators may stick in the throat or stomach, causing serious burns as the chemical leaks out. Children also are able to insert them into their ears and nose.

To prevent accidental poisoning during the holidays and through the New Year, always use child-resistant packaging and be sure to keep medicines and household chemicals locked up and out of a child’s reach.

Parents, grandparents and visitors must be extra cautious during the holidays. Suitcases, nightstands and purses may contain medicines and other potentially dangerous items. Medications given to senior citizens often do not have child-resistant closures.

Medicines and household chemicals always should be kept in child-resistant packaging and locked up away from a child’s reach. Re-seal the packaging after each use. The packaging is only effective when used properly.

It is important to remember, child-resistant does not mean child-proof. Child-resistant packaging is designed to be hard to open for children younger than age 5. Children often have more patience with the caps than adults do, and with enough time, they can get into almost anything.

In the event of a poison emergency, call the Poison Centers 24-hour emergency hotline at 1-(800) 222-1222 for immediate treatment.

It is a good idea to keep the new National Emergency Hotline number – (800) 222-1222 – in your cell phones and home phones. It provides everyone in the U.S. with free access to their regional poison center 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The nation’s poison control centers receive more than one million calls each year about unintentional poisonings of children under 5 years of age from medicines and household chemicals.

Remember, there is no substitute for attentive adults who provide safe environments in which children can learn and explore. For more information on protecting your children, contact your local University of Missouri Extension Center, 573-756-4539, or stop by the office on the first floor of the St. Francois County Courthouse in Farmington.

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