Winter Poisons

Call the toll-free number for any questions related to poisoning exposures inside or outside the home. The trained pharmacists and nurses are available 24 hours a day/7 days per week to provide treatment advice on the situation.

As the colder weather approaches, the risk for certain poisoning exposures increases. This page contains some tips for keeping your family safe during the winter and holiday season.

National Toll-Free Number for Poison Centers 1-800-222-1222  (call 24 hrs. day/7 days week)

Changes in Routine

Children home on school vacation, guests visiting, and cleaning the home may all lead to unintentional poisonings. Poisonings often happen when routines are changed. In addition, purses often contain medicines and other potential poisons. Be sure to keep a close eye on children during busy times and visits to others' homes. Keep purses and medicines out of reach of children.

Christmas Plants

As with plants throughout the year, keep them up high and out of reach of children and pets. Be sure to check with your poison control center or local nursery prior to purchasing plants to make sure it is non-poisonous.
  • Pointsettia: Over the years, this plant has gotten a bad reputation as very dangerous. It is not as toxic as thought. Ingestion of a very large amount of the plant may be toxic. In most cases, exposure will cause little reaction. The most common reactions are skin irritation,
    nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Mistletoe: The berries are dangerous.
    Teas made with berries as home remedies
    may be dangerous if ingested.
  • Holly: The bright red berries are often attractive to children. Holly berries are very toxic. Ingestion of berries may be fatal.

Learn more about plants that are toxic to people and pets.


Hydrocarbons such as lamp oil and pine oil cleaner are extremely dangerous if ingested. When aspirated into the lungs, pneumonia-like symptoms may result and can be potentially fatal. The colored lamp oils are often appealing to children. Be sure to keep up high and out of reach in a locked cabinet. Always keep child-resistant caps closed properly.


During the holidays, alcoholic beverages are often part of the fesitivities. Be sure that all partially filled glasses are discarded and not left out in cups where children may get at them. Learn about alcoholism and alcohol abuse.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a deadly odorless, colorless gas produced by burning fuel. Poisoning by carbon monoxide is the leading cause of poisoning death in the country. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Be sure to have all chimneys and heating systems checked annually by a professional.
  • Never use the stove or oven to heat the home.
  • Never run car engines while parked in a garage or against a snow bank.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors in sleeping areas of the home.

The New York City Poison Control Center offers free poison treatment recommendations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 800-222-1222 or 212-POISONS (212-764-7667) in New York City. Translators are available.

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