During the 12 days of poison hazards, someone made the mistake of…
Leaving 1 pack of button batteries on the floor
Button batteries are coin-sized batteries that are dangerous if swallowed. They can be easily swallowed by a child. The major risk with button batteries is the chance for the battery to get stuck in the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach). The moist environment of the esophagus creates a circuit with the battery that gives off an electrical current, which can cause a burn severe enough to create a hole in the esophagus.
Watch our 25-minute time lapse video of a button battery cooking a hot dog. In this demonstration, the hot dog acts as a person’s esophagus if the button battery were to get stuck.
Read our What You Should Know About Button Batteries blog for more information.
When buying toys this season, be mindful of ones that use a button battery. Also be mindful of toys with magnets. Magnets are dangerous if swallowed. More information can be found on our Toy Safety blog.
Taking a double dose of their medicine
If you think you may have taken a double dose of your medicine, it is best to call the poison center. Do not wait for symptoms to begin. You should also call if you can’t remember if you took your medicine. Our experts will help you decide which medicines are better to take again and which ones are better to skip.
Using 3 water bottles to store antifreeze
Never store antifreeze or other household products in food or drink containers. They should always be stored in their original labeled containers. Antifreeze is usually the same color as a juice so it can easily be mistaken for a beverage. It also has a sweet taste.
Leaving 4 toddlers unattended with holiday décor
Some family heirloom ornaments or ornaments from other countries may contain lead. Bubble lights contain a liquid that is toxic if its swallowed, gets on the skin, or gets in the eye. Call the poison center right away if any of these happen. Snow globes made in other countries may have toxic liquids instead of the usual water. If you have children or pets, make sure these items are kept out of reach.
Leaving 5 laundry pods out of the container and a toddler with a red eye
The liquid in laundry pods is very irritating to the eye, mouth, and skin. The pods are often colorful and smell good, which can be appealing to children. Squeezing laundry pods will likely cause them to break open and the liquid goes everywhere. Always store laundry pods up, away, and out of sight of children and pets.
Leaving 6 of grandma’s pills on the counter
Leaving medicine out can be dangerous for people of all ages. Depending what medicine you take, even one dose can be harmful for someone who is not meant to take it (e.g., a toddler taking an older adult’s medicine). Some people use daily pill minders to hold 7+ days of medicine. While these can be helpful to remember to take, most are not made to be child-resistant. Always store medicines up, away, and out of sight.
Leaving 7 chunks of rock salt on the floor
Rock salt, also known as ice melt, is a common household product during the winter. Small amounts of crystals that come into the house on shoes and boots is not dangerous. But if a child got into the container left out and they eat large quantities, they will have symptoms. Always store these products in their original labeled containers, never in a food or beverage container. Store it up, away, and out of sight, even between uses.
Eating 8 poinsettias leaves
It’s an old wives’ tale that poinsettias are poisonous to people. If large amounts of poinsettias are eaten, it may cause stomach upset. However, poinsettias are mildly toxic to pets. The Pet Poison Helpline is available 24/7, for a fee, by calling 855-764-7661. Visit the Pet Poison Helpline’s poinsettia page for more information.
Taking 9 servings of cannabis edibles too close together
Consuming cannabis products takes more time to take effect in the body than if they are smoked or vaped. This is because it must be absorbed through the digestive system. Effects can take 30 minutes or more to begin showing after consuming. Taking more than the directed amount in a short period of time can cause unwanted effects. It is also important to know the serving size of the edible. There may be more than one serving in the package. For more information about effects of cannabis on children and safe storage, read our edibles information sheet.
Leaving 10 alcoholic drinks in a child’s reach after a party
Be sure to clean up drinks before going to bed as children may get up in the morning and mistake it for their drink. Even during parties, keep an eye on alcoholic drinks and keep them out of reach of children.
Young children react differently to alcohol than adults. Children may experience low blood sugar after ingesting alcohol. If their blood sugar gets too low, it can lead to seizures and coma. If you think a child may have drunk alcohol, call the poison center right away. Do not wait for symptoms to call.
Not having the 11-digit poison center phone number saved in their phone
Everyone should have the phone number for the poison center programmed in their phone – 1-800-222-1222. That is the most important step in being prepared in case of a poisoning or overdose. An easy way to save the contact in the phone is to text the word “poison” to 797979 and then share the contact card with friends and family.
Leaving 12 deviled eggs out overnight
Any food left at room temperature more than two hours should be thrown away. One of the main reasons food poisonings happen is because food is left out at an unsafe temperature. Here are tips to ensure a food poisoning-free holiday season:
- Cook food to a safe temperature depending on the type
- Throw away food left out for more than two hours
- Follow safe thawing practices (e.g., not on the counter or at room temperature)
- Store leftovers in an air-tight container or other storage container in the refrigerator for three to four days or in the freezer for two to six months
The Maryland Poison Center is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-222-1222, even on holidays. Calling the poison center is always free and confidential. We wish you safe and happy holidays!
Elizabeth Millwee, RN
Certified Specialist in Poison Information