Monday, December 29, 2014

Holiday Toys and the Dangers of Button Batteries

Button batteries can be found in a variety of electronic devices including many toys that children receive during the holidays. Things like wristwatches, calculators, toys and even recorded Christmas cards all use button batteries. Unfortunately, their small size means that they can be easily swallowed by children. 

The Texas Poison Center Network wants you to know that button batteries are the most harmful type of battery for young children if swallowed. They can get stuck in the esophagus, leading to serious injury and is the leading cause of death by ingestion. Poison control centers across the United States report that about 3,500 button batteries are swallowed each year.
The symptoms of battery ingestion include vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea, difficulty breathing and swallowing. Many times, swallowed batteries pass through the intestines and safely exit the body. This is not always the case, however, as they can easily get lodged in the esophagus.

Batteries stuck in the throat cause an electric current and can leak corrosive chemicals, like alkaline electrolyte, that can cause internal damage. When this happens, a buildup of the chemical hydroxide may occur, causing dangerous burns within a couple of hours. Unfortunately, the damage caused can continue long after the battery is removed.

If your child ingests a battery, this is what you should do:

·         Immediately call your poison center at 1-(800)-222-1222.

·         Dial 9-1-1 immediately if someone
  • Stops breathing. 
  • Collapses. 
  • Has a seizure.

·        Don't induce vomiting

Swallowing batteries can be dangerous. Search your home for devices that may contain button batteries. Secure button battery-controlled devices out of reach of children and keep loose batteries locked away.
For more information, call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222. Poison centers are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year for poisoning emergencies and for informational calls, too.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Winter Poison Safety Holiday Tips from the Texas Poison Center Network

Brrrr….the weather is getting colder and holiday festivities are alive and well. This time of year brings lots of joy, but it can also bring nausea, vomiting or other bodily reactions if you aren’t careful. The Texas Poison Center Network wants to help you avoid any unintentional poisonings this time of year, so please check out our holiday poison safety tips below!

Food Safety

·         Most important: Wash Your Hands! Whenever you are preparing food, it is so important to wash your hands before, during and after to prevent food poisoning.

·         Make sure to cook food well to reduce potential poisoning- poultry-180 degrees F, beef-160 degrees F and pork-160 degrees F.  Cover and reheat leftovers to 165 degrees F before serving.

·         Keep foods that need to be cold or hot at the right temperature. If food is left out at room temperature for more than two hours, bacteria can grow and sickness can ensue.

·         Never use unvented fuel-burning devices in a home or apartment.CO poisoning can occur. Read our blog on CO poison safety here.

·         Remember, contaminated food is not always obvious. If you are unsure if an item is still ok to eat, it is probably best to throw it out. Safety first!

Potentially Dangerous D├ęcor
Tree Ornaments: Some ornaments are made of very thin metal or glass. If a child were to ingest part of an ornament, it could potentially cause choking or worse. Practice safety first when choosing ornaments to use on your tree with little ones in the home.

Gift Wrap: Overall, gift wrapping paper is pretty safe. But it is possible for some colored gift wrap or foil to contain lead. Don’t let babies chew on paper as a precaution.

Holiday Plants
Poinsettia: While these plants are a holiday favorite, ingesting very large amounts of this plant might cause a mild stomach ache. The sap on the plant can also cause a skin rash, so when handling these plants, make sure to wash your hands with soap and water afterwards.

Holly berries: While these berries are visually appealing, if ingested they can cause a stomach ache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Keep these berries out of reach of children.

Mistletoe: If this plant is ingested, it will leave you feeling pretty terrible as the plant does contain toxic substances. Common symptoms of poisoning from this plant include vomiting, diarrhea and stomach ache.

Remember, as always, if you or someone you know has been potentially poisoned, please do not hesitate to contact the Poison Control hotline at 1-800-222-1222. We hope everyone has a safe holiday season!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Tips to Keep You Safe

Make sure you have a CO Detector
Each year in America, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning claims more than 500 lives and sends roughly 40,000 people to hospital emergency rooms for treatment. While these numbers are scary, there are ways to prevent CO poisoning.

So as the weather turns chilly throughout much of the country, the Texas Poison Center Network wants to remind everyone to have a professional inspection of all fuel-burning heating systems - including furnaces, boilers, fireplaces, water heaters and space heaters - to detect any potentially deadly carbon monoxide (CO) leaks in your home.

Did you know that under certain conditions, all appliances that burn fuels can leak deadly CO? These fuels include kerosene; oil; coal; both natural and liquefied petroleum gas; and wood. By having a professional inspection of your fuel-burning heating appliances, you will be ahead of the game in protecting your family from the silent killer, CO poisoning.

Make sure the professional inspection includes checking chimneys, flues and vents for leakage and blockage by debris. Birds, other animals and insects sometimes can nest in vents and block exhaust gases, causing the gases to enter the home. In addition, all vents to furnaces, water heaters, boilers and other fuel-burning heating appliances should be checked to make sure they are not loose or disconnected.


Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your home. At lower levels of exposure, CO causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu. These symptoms include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue.

  • Install at least one UL (Underwriters Laboratories) listed carbon monoxide alarm with an audible warning signal near the sleeping areas and outside individual bedrooms. Carbon monoxide alarms measure levels of CO over time and are designed to sound an alarm before an average, healthy adult would experience symptoms. It is very possible that you may not be experiencing symptoms when you hear the alarm. This does not mean that CO is not present.
  • Never use your range or oven to help heat your home and never use a charcoal grill or hibachi in your home or garage.
  • Never keep a car running in a garage. Even if the garage doors are open, normal circulation will not provide enough fresh air to reliably prevent a dangerous buildup of CO.
  • When purchasing an existing home, have a qualified technician evaluate the integrity of the heating and cooking systems, as well as the sealed spaces between the garage and house.


If no one is feeling ill:
1.      Silence the alarm.

2.      Turn off all appliances and sources of combustion (i.e. furnace and fireplace).
3.      Ventilate the house with fresh air by opening doors and windows.
4.      Call a qualified professional to investigate the source of the possible CO buildup.

If illness is a factor:
1.      Evacuate all occupants immediately.

2.      Determine how many occupants are ill and determine their symptoms.
3.      Call 9-1-1 and when relaying information to the dispatcher, include the number of people feeling ill.
4.      Do not re-enter the home without the approval of a fire department representative.
5.      Call a qualified professional to repair the source of the CO.

Here’s One Family’s Story:

In Temple on October 29th, a family sat down to eat dinner.  Their CO detector went off, so they immediately evacuated the house and called 911.  The Temple fire department responded and went through the house and tested the levels of CO.  They determined that the levels of CO in the house were so high that it could have killed or severely injured the family very quickly.  They lived in a rental property and the source was their stove….but the thing that saved them was a working CO detector.

Remember: Carbon monoxide poisoning IS preventable! Make sure to protect yourself and your family by being prepared and aware. If you think you might have carbon monoxide poisoning, please call the Poison Control Network at 1-800-222-1222. If someone is having life threatening reactions, please do not hesitate to contact 9-1-1.