Holidays are a great time for family and friends to get together to share food, festivities and fun. The risk of unintentional poisoning increases when people travel, are in unfamiliar settings or outside their normal routine. From food poisoning to decorating dangers, we get these calls. Following some simple precautions can make sure we have happy and healthy holidays.
Poison Control Centers are open 24 hours a day even during holidays. The Poison Help line is 1-800-222-1222.
Family, friends and food are just some of the ways people give thanks during this national holiday. So, you don’t want to serve your turkey with a side of poisoning. While food borne illness is one of the major concerns, we have several items that trigger calls to Poison Control Centers. Following a few safety tips will help you have a happy healthy holiday.
Thawing Turkey – Raw turkey should be stored in the freezer until you are ready to thaw it. Make sure your freezer is at 0˚F or below. When a turkey is frozen, it is safe from bacteria growth. As soon as it starts to thaw, bacteria can start to grow. The danger zone is between 40° and 140° when bacteria can multiply rapidly. The safest thawing option is in your refrigerator, but this will take several days. The National Turkey Federation suggest using the following to safely thaw your turkey.
🦃20 – 24 lbs. – Move to fridge Friday before Thanksgiving.
🦃16 – 20 lbs. – Move to fridge Saturday before Thanksgiving.
🦃12 – 16 lbs. – Move to fridge Sunday before Thanksgiving.
🦃04 – 12 lbs. – Move to fridge Monday before Thanksgiving.
Never thaw your turkey by leaving it out on the counter.
Food preparation – Remember the 4 Cs when preparing your Thanksgiving feast: cleaning, cooking, cross contamination and chilling.
👐Cleaning – The CDC recommends regularly cleaning work surfaces, chopping boards and knives. You should clean the work area before you start and regularly during food preparation. Wash your hands continually during the process.
⬅️ ➡️Cross Contamination – This occurs when bacteria are transferred from one item to another. This could happen if you touch raw meat and proceed to cut vegetables without washing your hands. Use different utensils, chopping boards and work surfaces for cooked and uncooked food. Wash food-contact surfaces regularly and your hands regularly. Do not rinse your turkey or raw meat. This can spread harmful bacteria to other foods, utensils and surfaces.
🥘Cooking – Time and temperature are the keys to ensuring the food you cook is safe to eat. The correct temperature and right length of time will ensure harmful bacteria are killed. The internal temperature of turkey and stuffing needs to be 165°. Temperature needs to be checked using a cooking thermometer.
🧊Chilling – It is important to keep food at the optimal temperature until it is time to serve to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Keep your refrigerator at 40° or below and your freezer at 0°. Food should be prepared no more than 2 days in advance of your feast. Store food items in individual containers.
Serving – As a general rule, food should not be left out for more than 2 hours. Hot food needs to be kept above 140° and cold food below 40°. Food should be put away as quickly as possible after the meal with the goal of keeping food at out for the least amount of time possible.
Alcohol Safety during the Holidays – Alcohol can be very dangerous for small children and pets. 3oz of hard liquor can potentially be fatal to a small child. The symptoms may be mild, such as dizziness and nausea and can lead to serious complications, such as vomiting, drowsiness, difficulty breathing, coma and death. Supervise kids at parties and dispose of leftover drinks promptly.
Leftovers – Most Thanksgiving leftovers will keep for 3 to 4 days if refrigerated at the proper temperature. If you have more food than you can eat through the Thanksgiving weekend, freezing is a good option. Freeze food in airtight containers to prevent freezer burn. If you suspect the food has started to spoil, throw it away. As the saying goes, when in doubt, throw it out.
When most people think of Halloween poison hazards, candy is usually top of mind. Rumors of poisoned candy have long been debunked. Parents still need to check candy, but there are other issues that need top attention as well.
Candy Safety: When checking candy, make sure nothing is open or spoiled. Also, make sure someone didn’t accidentally drop a THC (marijuana) edible into your child’s Halloween bag. Edibles may look like common treats like candy, baked goods. The label should include a “THC!” or marijuana leaf image or language such as “Delta-8”, “Delta-10” or “THC-O”. If you’re unsure follow a simple rule: When in doubt, throw it out!
Glow Sticks: More than likely, it’ll be dark when it’s time to go trick-or-treating, so glow sticks will be a great addition for the night. Remind children not to chew on glow sticks or break them open. Although the liquid is not highly toxic in small amounts, it contains dibutyl phthalate that can potentially cause skin irritation. If the oily liquid gets on the skin or in the mouth, it can cause irritation, rinse it off immediately. If it splashes in the eyes, it can cause severe irritation and burning. Rinse the affected eye with running tap water immediately and call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
Make Up/Face Paint: What is Halloween without disguising your face? Before putting make-up or face paint on a child, it is best to test it (like the inside of the arm). The use of food coloring or colors not intended for the skin should be avoided. These can cause irritation and be difficult to wash off. Just as important as using the right cosmetics or face paint to avoid skin irritation is to thoroughly wash off all of the colors, powders, lip colors and any glitter before going to bed. This will help prevent skin break outs or rashes.
Choking Hazards: We know the kids are excited to eat and play with the goodies they bring home from trick-or-treating. Parents should be mindful of choking hazards. Some examples of choking hazards are peanuts, gum, hard candies, small toys, and small erasers.
Button Batteries: As you make safety a top priority, you might include a flashlight, in addition to glow sticks. Keep in mind that small flashlights, costume accessories and holiday cards may contain button batteries. Button batteries can lead to severe tissue damage if ingested. If you suspect someone has ingested a button battery, do not force them to vomit, call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.