Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Know Your Limits and Practice Safety First When Ringing in the New Year

As December comes to an end, everyone gets increasingly more excited to ring in the New Year. Perfect party dresses and festive decorations will be bought for this special occasion. And while it is a wonderful time to celebrate, it is also a time to remember how dangerous drinking too much alcohol can be to the body.

Some will suffer adverse consequences that range from falls to traffic crashes to poisonings. Sadly, we often put ourselves and others at risk because we don't understand how alcohol affects us during an evening of celebratory drinking.

What are signs of alcohol poisoning?
  • Mental confusion
  • Unresponsive
  • Seizures / Stupor
  • Throwing up
  • Hypothermia - low body temp, cold / clammy skin
  • Erratic or slow breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Pale or bluish skin color
By practicing safety first (and refraining from drinking in excess), you can eliminate many of these fears. What can you do to stay safe and help others?

  • Know the danger signals.
  • Do not wait for all symptoms.
  • Be aware that a person who has passed out may die.
  • Call 911 and stay with the person.
In 2011, the Texas Legislature passed a law called the 911 Lifeline Law. That law says a person under 21 won't be charged by the police for possessing or consuming alcohol if the person calls 911 because someone might have alcohol poisoning.

This limited immunity applies only to the first person to call for medical assistance, only if the caller remains on the scene until medical assistance arrives and cooperates with EMS and law enforcement. This law was intended to encourage young people to do the right thing and save a life. For more information please visit here.

Remember that mistakes happen and you should never be afraid to call 9-1-1 for help! And if you are not sure if someone has been poisoned, please do not hesitate to contact the Texas Poison Center Network at 1-800-222-1222. There are nurses and pharmacists available 24/7 to help you with your poison needs. We hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Celebrating the Holidays with Food Safety in Mind

It’s the most wonderful time of year! No matter what holidays you celebrate or who you celebrate them with, there is one thing in common with all holiday celebrations and that is delicious food. But the food might not be so delicious, and could cause quite the stir in your belly, if you don’t follow some friendly advice from the Texas Poison Center educators!

Did you know that one in six Americans could get sick from food poisonings this year alone? That’s roughly 48 million people. And while most people will recover, some serious side effects can occur from certain bacteria such as kidney failure, chronic arthritis, and brain and nerve damage. (Food-borne illness usually happens when bacteria grows quickly in food that has been improperly stored or prepared.)

Make sure your loved ones stay food-poisoning free by following the basic guidelines used with these four steps: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.

Clean: Always wash hands and surfaces often. This will help eliminate cross contamination of bacteria.

·         Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after handling food.
·         Wash cutting boards, utensils and dishes with hot soap after preparing each food item.
·         Use paper towels instead of a dish cloth to help eliminate bacteria transferring.
·         Rinse fruits and veggies under running tap water, including the skins and rinds that do not usually get eaten.

Separate: Cross contamination is how bacteria is usually spread which is why separating foods is so important. (Check out this fact sheet here:

·         Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs from other foods not only at home in the refrigerator, but even when you pick them up at the store.
·         Use a cutting board for fresh produce and a separate cutting board for raw meat, poultry and seafood.
·         Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held uncooked meat, poultry and seafood.

Cook: Make sure to cook dishes at the proper temperature.

·         Use a food thermometer to make sure that food is cooked to the right temperature for that dish.
·         Cook roasts and steaks to a minimum of 145°F. All poultry should reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F as measured with a food thermometer.
·         Cook ground meat, where bacteria can spread during grinding, to at least 160°F.
·         Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm, not runny.
·         When microwaving food, make sure there are no cold spots in the food, by turning the dish frequently in the microwave, as well as keeping the dish covered. Stir occasionally.

Chill: Refrigerate in a timely fashion.

·         Cold temperatures slow the growth of bacteria so keeping food cold is extremely important. Keep the refrigerator at 40F or below.
·         Never let raw meat, poultry, eggs, cooked food or cut fresh fruits or vegetables sit at room temperature more than two hours before putting them in the refrigerator or freezer.
·         Avoid defrosting food at room temperature. Food needs to be kept safe during thawing which means food should only be thawed: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave. And remember, if you thaw in cold water or in the microwave, you need to cook the food immediately after.
·         Marinate food in the refrigerator.

If you still manage to get sick, common symptoms of serious food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever. If this happens to you or a loved one, please do not hesitate to contact one of our specialist at the Texas Poison Center Network for help at 1-800-222-1222. They are open round-the-clock, even on holidays.