Tips for a Safe and Healthy Holiday during the COVID-19 Pandemic

 

The holiday season is a time for celebration and joy with our friends and families. Due to our current pandemic, there are additional safety guidelines to keep in mind. It is wise to follow all state directed health measures. Research shows that the number of poisoning incidents involving children rises during the holiday season. The Nebraska Regional Poison Center reminds everyone to be mindful of additional items in the home that may cause a poisoning during the holiday season. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

 

  • If you do have visitors remember that they may bring their medications. 59,000 children go to U.S. emergency departments every year for a poisoning and 48% of these cases involve children accessing grandparents’ medications. When visitors arrive for the holidays, make sure to store their medications out of sight and reach.
  • Avoid storing disinfectants and cleaners on the counter. Storage on the counter may be convenient, but it provides an opportunity for a young child to reach and swallow or spray them on the skin or in the eyes.
  • Disc batteries may be found in toys, games, watches, remotes and musical greeting cards. If swallowed, they can become lodged in the throat and cause serious injury or death if not removed. Also avoid toys that contain magnets since they may be harmful if swallowed.
  • Alcohol is found in holiday drinks, hand sanitizers, and even in perfume and cologne. Remove all items containing alcohol from sight and reach. Remember to empty all ashtrays; only a few cigarette butts can harm a child if swallowed.
  • Lamp oil in candle lamps is frequently used this time of year. These fuels may be colored and look like pretty beverages to small children. It only takes a small amount to cause choking and a chemical pneumonia if it goes into the lung. Aroma and fragrance oils can also be a choking hazard and cause vomiting.
  • Keep small children and animals away from seasonal plants such as mistletoe, holly berries, yew plants and poinsettias. Poinsettias are not the fatal poison that they were once believed to be, but in large amounts they can cause upset stomach.
  • Although holiday tree icicles, tinsel and garland are festive, these items can be a choking hazard if swallowed. Snow sprays help with holiday décor, but the pressurized container may cause eye damage if sprayed directly in the eye. Glitter can be irritating to the eyes and lungs. Snow globes usually contain water and glitter. Some snow globes may also contain glycols, but usually in low concentrations.

The Nebraska Regional Poison Center offers tips on holiday safety and poison prevention. When you call 1-800-222-1222, you will talk immediately to a Registered Nurse or Pharmacist 24/7/365.

 

Safety at Thanksgiving during the COVID-19 Pandemic

 The holiday meal and its preparation is the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving celebration and safe food handling in the kitchen is very important! There are many more safety guidelines to keep in mind this year due to our current pandemic. It is wise to follow all state directed health measures this year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six Americans (48 million) will become ill from a food-borne illness this year. The following tips will help guard against food poisoning.

 DO…

  • DO ask all kitchen helpers to wash their hands using warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • DO keep turkey in its original wrapping, refrigerated until ready to cook.
  • DO defrost a frozen turkey by refrigeration or cold running water.
  • DO allow one day for every 4-5 pounds to defrost in the refrigerator. In a cold water bath, change the water every 30 minutes.
  • DO use a meat thermometer to check if turkey is done. The turkey should cook until the internal temperature reaches a safe minimum of 165˚ F.
  • DO store the turkey and stuffing separately.
  • DO store leftover turkey in the refrigerator and use within 3-4 days.
  • DO store leftover stuffing and gravy in the refrigerator and use within 1-2 days.

DON’T…

  • DON’T defrost a turkey at room temperature. Bacteria can multiply to unsafe numbers on outer layers before inner layers have defrosted.
  • DON’T leave an uncooked thawed turkey out of the refrigerator longer than two hours.
  • DON’T rinse your turkey before cooking. Let the cooking process take care of the bacteria and avoid the risk of cross contamination.
  • DON’T set your oven lower than 325˚ F.
  • DON’T prepare food if you are sick or have a nose or eye infection.
  • DON’T leave leftovers out on the counter longer than two hours.
  • DON’T re-freeze a completely thawed uncooked turkey.
  • DON’T stuff turkeys as it makes it difficult for the internal temperature to reach 165°F within a safe period of time. If you must stuff your turkey, stuff it lightly before cooking and leave room for the oven to cook the interior of the turkey and stuffing.

 

The Nebraska Regional Poison Center is a free community service to the public.

Call 1-800-222-1222 to speak directly with a Registered Nurse or Pharmacist 24/7/365.

The Nebraska Regional Poison Center will unite with the nation’s other 54 poison centers to celebrate the 58th Annual National Poison Prevention Week on March 15-21, 2020, a week dedicated to raising awareness about poisoning in the U.S. and highlighting ways to prevent it. Each year, more than 2 million poisonings are reported to the Nation’s poison centers, which can be reached by calling 1-800-222-1222. The Poison Center is staffed by specially trained health care professionals including Registered Nurses, Pharmacists and Physicians.

Poisons are all around us and can affect anyone, anywhere, at any time of life. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, 93 percent of poisonings happen at home, and 45 percent of poisonings involve children under the age of 6. The majority of fatal poisonings occur among adults, especially older adults.  Many poisonings are preventable and expert help is just a phone call away.

Here are some poison prevention tips to protect yourself and your family:

  • Program the toll-free number for the Poison Center (1-800-222-1222) into your cell phone or text “poison” to 797979 to save the contact information. Post the toll-free number visibly in your residence as well.
  • Always put medicines and vitamins away after every use. It may be tempting to keep the medicine handy because you have to give another dose in a few hours, but children are very quick and may attempt to swallow it, so it is best to store out of reach and sight.
  • Never refer to medicine as “candy” or another appealing name.
  • Always use the dosing device that comes with the medicine container.
  • If you have old, unused or expired medication call the Poison Center for assistance in locating a pharmacy that can take medication back.
  • Install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in your home. Make sure there is one on every level of your home, especially around sleeping areas.  If the CO alarm sounds, leave your home immediately and move to a safe location outside where you can get fresh air.
  • Keep liquid nicotine products and cigarettes out of the reach of children. A small amount can be very poisonous to a child.
  • Be aware of where the disc batteries are in your home. They may be found in remote controls, key fobs, hearing aids, musical cards or books.  Curious toddlers will swallow these readily and are very dangerous if ingested.
  • Never mix household products together. For example, mixing bleach with an acid or an ammonia cleaner may result in a toxic gas.
  • Check your home (including garage) for cleaning supplies, laundry detergent packets, plants, personal care products, alcohol, pesticides, gasoline and medicine. Keep them out of sight or locked up.

 

The Nebraska Regional Poison Center is a free community service to the public.

When you call 1-800-222-1222, you will speak immediately to a Registered Nurse or Pharmacist 24/7/365.

The Nebraska Regional Poison Center is only a phone call away.  Keep our phone number with you and your holiday guests.   Just a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Avoid putting purses near young children when you host, or are at a holiday party. There could be medicine or other poisonous items in purses readily available for a curious toddler.
  • Keep all medicines up high and out of reach.
  • Keep alcoholic beverages out of sight.  When guests leave pour out alcoholic beverages.

Call if you need immediate assistance, or even for questions: 1-800-222-1222.  You can also text “797979” to your smart phone-this will save the 800 number in your contacts.  You will talk immediately to a trained poison center specialist; either a Registered Nurse or Pharmacist.

Tis the season..but please be safe and enjoy this Holiday Season with friends and family!