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Safe holidays are happy holidays

The holidays bring lots of cheer, but also a lot of new or unusual situations that can spell disaster for children or pets that ingest new plants around the house or find their way into a visitor’s medication.

In fact, this time of year is one of the busiest for poison control centers. Experts lump the calls into three types of toxicity issues:

  • Concerns about plants;
  • Problems with medication;
  • Calls related to alcohol.


Many people are concerned about seasonal plants, and wonder if they’re safe to have around children. While plants like poinsettias, mistletoe, holly, and fir trees can be dangerous for pets, they are all safe to have around kids. Even if curious kids take a little taste of these types of plants, there’s no reason for concern.


There are two major medication concerns around the holiday: easier access to medications, and mixing prescriptions with alcohol.

Often, visitors bring along medication when staying over the holidays.

“Easy-open containers and pills are interesting and new to children. They can get into the containers before you know what’s happening,” said Jon Cole, M.D., assistant professor of Emergency Medicine.

Cole recommends guests keep medications high off the ground or out of sight. When possible, utilize childproof containers.

Another major concern with medications around the holidays is mixing alcohol and medications, or pairing prescription and recreational drugs.

Even people who are light drinkers often find themselves drinking socially around the holidays. However, limiting or abstaining from alcohol while taking prescription medication is an important choice. For over the counter medication, read the label thoroughly. Never mix recreational and prescription drugs.


People make mistakes with alcohol year round, and especially around the holidays. It’s important to know your limits and stop well before them.

When a person’s body processes alcohol, the feeling of intoxication builds in the early stages of drinking. Most people stop drinking when they feel drunk, but as the body processes the alcohol, you are actually getting more intoxicated.

“This is why driving tipsy or waiting for your drink to wear off are both bad ideas for anyone looking to get behind the wheel,” said Cole. “The best bet is to just not drive after any amount of drinks.”

Alcoholism is a serious problem. If you feel you cannot control your drinking, ask for help. You can start with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

When it comes to holiday emergencies or potential toxic reactions, don’t be afraid to call Poison Control or head to the emergency room. You can reach the Poison Control hotline at 1-800-222-1222.

  1. January 1, 2013 11:13 am | Arni Morretta Says:

    I call it responsible feasting

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