How to Make the Holidays Safer with the 12 Days of Safety

The California Poison Control System ( has a new twist on the old “!2 Days of Christmas” song, which offers 12 things all of us can to to make our lives—before, during, and after the Holidays—safer.

I realize were a little late getting this up, but there’s no reason to skip any of these great suggestions, even if the calendar date has passed, your personal winter holiday is over, or you celebrate only Festivus,

12/14: “Poison proof” your home if you have small children or expect any to visit. Secure all medicines, cleaning products, and personal care products before your guests arrive. Poisonings can occur in the home of grandparents who may not remember how quickly children can move or how inventive they can be in exploring new spaces.

12/15: Prevent food poisoning. Before you prepare any food, clean all counters and cutting boards with soap and hot water, and carefuly wash your hands. After meals, refrigerate food promptly.

12/16: Keep alcohol and/or tobacco (you shouldn’t be smoking anyway) out of reach of toddlers.

12/17: if you have a Christmas tree, keep it fresh with water early on, and keep anything and everything flammable far away from the tree. Put fresh batteries in all your smoke detectors.

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Mmm. Looks like candy, smells like candy, but tastes like….. soap!

Just an FYI. Hundreds of kids around the country are getting sick–sometimes really, really sick–from swallowing those cute laundry packets like Tide Pods and Purex UltraPacks. They’re colorful, smell nice, and are just the right size for a little hand to grab and stuff into his mouth. Something lawyers might refer to as an “attractive nuisance.”

Unfortunately, despite the pretty exterior, those convenient detergent packets can also be dangerous. According to news reports, some kids who have swallowed them have been hospitalized for a week, put on a ventilator, even slipped into a coma.

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What’s lurking in your medicine cabinet?

Remember, this week is National Poison Prevention Week. There’s a theme for each day and today’s is accidental poisonings. The data is pretty scary—the number of accidental medication poisonings has doubled over the past 30 years or so, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. The good news is that the number of deaths has dropped by 50 percent over the same time period. In the U.S. 165 kids end up in the emergency room every day because of these poisonings which, by the way, aren’t limited to medication—kids can get extremely sick from OD-ing on vitamins. Safe Kids has some excellent tips.
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Preventing child poisonings: it’s up to us

National Poison Prevention Week (NPPW) is March 19-24. According to NPPW, more than two million children are poisoned every year – 90 percent of the time it happens at home.

NPPW has some great resources for poisonproofing your home, keeping your home safe, locating poison centers, and a lot more here:

In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests some important tips to prevent and treat poison.
Prevention-safety measures

  • Store medicine, cleaners, paints/varnishes and pesticides in their original packaging in locked cabinets or containers, out of sight and reach of children.
  • Install a safety latch – that locks when you close the door – on child-accessible cabinets containing harmful products.
  • Purchase and keep all medicines in containers with safety caps and keep out of reach of children. Discard unused medication.
  • Never refer to medicine as “candy” or another appealing name.
  • Check the label each time you give a child medicine to ensure proper dosage.
  • Never place poisonous products in food or drink containers.
  • Keep coal, wood or kerosene stoves in safe working order.
  • Maintain working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Secure remote controls, key fobs, greeting cards, and musical children’s books. These and other devices may contain small button-cell batteries that can cause injury if ingested.


  • Swallowed poison – Remove the item from the child, and have the child spit out any remaining substance. Do not make your child vomit. Do not use syrup of ipecac.
  • Skin poison — Remove the child’s clothes and rinse the skin with lukewarm water for at least 15 minutes.
  • Eye poison — Flush the child’s eye by holding the eyelid open and pouring a steady stream of room temperature water into the inner corner for 15 minutes.
  • Poisonous fumes – Take the child outside or into fresh air immediately. If the child has stopped breathing, start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and do not stop until the child breathes on his or her own, or until someone can take over.

The APP also urges those in need of help to contact the helpline to get immediate assistance.

For emergency cases like the child is unconscious, not breathing, or having convulsions or seizure due to poison contact or ingestion, call 911 or your local emergency number. For mild symptoms call your poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.