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Deck the Halls with Prevention and Safety

Release Date: November 26, 2018
With added awareness and following simple tips, most injuries can be prevented and the holidays can remain joyous and safe for everyone.

Deck the Halls with Prevention and Safety

The holidays are a special time of year, full of family celebrations and good cheer. As the days count down, the hectic nature of preparing for the holidays in addition to the arrival of family and friends takes over. Although the "To Do" seems to keep growing, be sure to keep "Safety" at the top because of the increased risk for injuries around this time of year. Fortunately, with added awareness and following simple tips, most injuries can be prevented and the holidays can remain joyous and safe for everyone

Alcohol- If accidentally swallowed by children and/or pets, leftover cocktails can be fatal! Always empty beverage glasses and place them out of reach of curious children and pets.

Medicines- Be sure to keep a safe, locked place for relatives and holiday visitors to store any medications they may be carrying with them. Never leave any medications in purses, nightstands, or in the bathroom where they are accessible to children.

Toy Safety- Be cautious of antique or foreign-made toys! They may contain lead and be hazardous to children. For Toy Safety call the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission at 1-800-638-2772.

Candles- Place candles in secure areas where they cannot fall or be knocked over by children and pets. Use non-flammable holders and remember that small amounts of melted wax can become a choking hazard to small children.

Fireplace: Before lighting any fire, remove all decorations from the area. Check to see that the flue is open. Keep a screen before the fireplace the entire time a fire is burning.

Button Batteries and Magnets-These items are easy to swallow and can cause serious harm to children and pets. If ingested, button batteries can get stuck in the throat or stomach causing serious burns. If two or more magnets are ingested, they can attract one another internally, resulting in serious damage to the stomach or intestines.

Holiday Plants- Many plants can be potentially harmful if eaten or handled improperly so decorate for the holiday season using non-poisonous plants if possible. Holiday plants which can produce some toxic effects, mainly gastrointestinal, include Holly, Jerusalem Cherry, Mistletoe, Boxwood and a variety of species of the Yew. Contrary to popular belief, Poinsettias are not considered toxic when consumed in small amounts. Call the NJ Poison Experts at 1-800-222-1222 to find out what other plants are considered to be toxic.

Fire Salts- Attractive when added to fires for the colorful flames they produce. These salts can produce serious stomach problems if ingested. They need to be kept out of reach from children.

Tree Ornaments- Ornaments resembling foods are as attractive as the real thing. A child or a dog may think a fake apple or cookie looks appetizing and attempt to eat it. If eaten, they can cause problems, so avoid using them for decoration. Take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, especially in homes with small children and pets.

Artificial Snow Spray: This product can irritate lungs if inhaled. To avoid injury, follow the directions.

Lamp Oils- Lamp oils pose serious danger. Children are often confused by these oils because they look just like a beverage. If ingested, the oils can get into the lungs and cause pneumonia and even death. Many of the lamps containing these oils are not child-resistant and must be kept away from children and pets. When not in use, store the lamps and extra oils, the same way you would store any chemical - Lock them up and keep them out of the reach of children.

Wrapping Paper- DO NOT burn in the fireplace. They may contain toxic metals like lead, may burn at such a high temperature that they may prove dangerous to the fireplace, or flake and send sparks out into the room causing a potential fire.

Pets- Make sure to keep chocolate, cocoa, candy and sugarless gum that contains Xylitol, yeast bread dough, leftover fatty meat scraps, fruit cakes with raisins and currants, alcohol and illicit drugs out of reach of your pets. Ingestion of any of these can cause serious harm and even death. Be sure to keep all wires tucked away.

Tinsel- If you have a cat, tinsel should not be used to decorate. Cats tend to think it is a fun toy to play with since it shiny and gets their attention, but it can cause serious injury to your pet. If ingested, it can wrap around the tongue or anchor itself in the stomach making it impossible to pass through the intestines.

Cigars and Cigarettes- Empty all ashtrays after your holiday gathering. Children and pets have been known to eat cigars and cigarette "butts". There is enough nicotine in these tobacco products to be considered poisonous to children and pets.

Food- All foods should be prepared and cooked properly to avoid food poisoning. Food poisoning usually occurs two to six hours after eating the contaminated food and can include nausea, fever, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea. Depending on the exact type of food poisoning, how your body reacts to the toxin and the amount of contaminated food that was eaten, symptoms may last from several hours to two or three days. Food poisoning can be serious for people in poor health, as well as the very young and the elderly. For tips on food safety, please click on the link ( to read our November press release.

Fireplace- Have chimneys and flues inspected by a professional before each heating season. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that poses a serious health concern. Carbon monoxide poisoning is often referred to as the "Silent Killer."

This information was previously published by the NJ Department of Health external link.