Fall is the season of change. The leaves begin to change colors, the temperature begins to drop, and our whole mentality begins to shift towards “the holidays.” First we have Labor Day, then Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving and Christmas. All these holidays bring about a whole different type of dangers into our home. One of these dangers is Alcohol. Alcohol is common at most holiday celebrations, but we need to remember that children are at risk. Don’t leave alcoholic beverages within children’s reach – especially those mixed with soda; they are more attractive to small children. Alcohol poisoning can be fatal to children. Also remember to drink in moderation, and if you do so, don’t drive.
Another danger that comes with the holidays is food poisoning. Bacteria account for about 70% of food borne poisonings and include E.Coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Staphylococcus aureus, and Clostridium perfringenz. The most dominant symptoms are gastrointestinal, which may have onsets from one hour to several days. These include abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and blood/mucus in stool. There are a few steps you can take to avoid contamination of food during the holidays. To prevent food poisonings, thaw food in its original wrapping in the refrigerator to prevent growth of bacteria. If defrosted in the microwave oven, remove wrapping and defrost until the whole piece is thoroughly defrosted before cooking. All fresh food rich in proteins (fish, beef, pork, turkey, chicken, milk products, eggs, etc.) usually contain certain amount of bacteria, but this usually does not present any danger. Cooking all foods properly can prevent the bacteria. The temperature of meats and turkey should reach 180º F to kill bacteria. Always refrigerate left over food. Food should never remain at room temperature for more that two hours. Remember to also wash all cooking areas and utensils that were in contact with any raw foods.
If you have any questions of concerns, about poisons and possible exposures, please call the Texas Poison Center Network at 1-800-222-1222. Have a happy and safe holiday season free from poisonings.