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Keeping the Holidays Safe From Hidden Poisons

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Potentially much more toxic are aromatic oils used to give the house a Christmas scent. Soloway says that while it's hard to make a generalization about these products, one thing is certain: Children can develop a deadly form of pneumonia if the oils get into the lungs. That could happen if a child coughs or chokes while swallowing one. In addition, highly concentrated "essential oils" can cause seizures if ingested -- even in small amounts.

With many parents hitting the road for the holidays, Soloway advises packing two items along with the gifts and winter clothes: The number of a poison control center and a bottle of the vomiting agent syrup of ipecac. But under no circumstances should parents use the latter, until speaking with a representative from the former.

To find out the number of poison control center near your holiday destination, visit the American Association of Poison Control Centers homepage at www.aapcc.org.

Vital Information:

  • Many holiday decorations can be toxic if ingested by children, including holly berries and aromatic oils.
  • Parents should also watch out for alcohol at parties, because only a small amount is necessary to cause alcohol poisoning in children.
  • Among the large crowds at holiday celebrations, a single adult should be charged with watching the children.
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