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Holiday hazards: Which decorations are really dangerous?

dangerous decorations Don't serve it in your holiday buffet, but the poinsettia is not as toxic as commonly believed.
   William O. Robertson, Medical Director of the Washington Poison Center, says there is no scientific data which substantiates claims that eating a poinsettia will kill you or your child.
   Similarly, while ingesting holly berries could cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, and eating mistletoe could cause gastroenteritis, these popular Christmas plants are not known to cause death either.
   "There is no need to panic," says Dr. Robertson. "If your child accidentally eats one of these plants, call the Washington Poison Center for information. Families with young children always should have the Washington Poison Center telephone number on hand."
   Actually, the number of poisonings does not increase during the holiday season, but misconceptions about the toxicity of holiday decorations often spread this time of year.
   Plants get a bad reputation, and there is concern about tinsel, wrapping paper, and artificial snow, although choking, and not the remote possibility of toxicity, is the greater concern.
   "Don't overlook the common toxins," says Dr. Robertson. "Alcohol can be fatal to a young child. Keep cocktails out of the reach of a child during and after a party. And keep it away from adults who plan to drive."
   The house is full of new temptations for children and their pets, and adults find it difficult to watch their kids and animals as closely as they usually do.
   The following is the Washington Poison Center's list of some of the most popular holiday decorations and the facts about their hazards:    And don't forget everyday hazards.
    Remember to cook and store food properly to reduce the risk of food poisoning.
   Keep medicines and household chemicals in child-resistant containers, out of sight and reach of children at all times.
   If a suspected poisoning occurs, call the Washington Poison Center immediately at 526-2121, or toll-free 1-800-732-6985.
   The Washington Poison Center is a 24-hour toll-free statewide telephone service staffed by pharmacists, nurses, and physicians who provide emergency information about the recognition and treatment of toxic substances and suspected poisons.
   For more information, contact Stephen Bobbink, R.Ph., at the Washington Poison Center at (206) 517-2351.