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Upstate New York Poison Center warns of holiday hazards

Ellen Abbott

With the rampant spread of flu, COVID-19 and other viruses this time of year, the Upstate New York Poison Center has a warning. Executive Director Jeanna Marraffa said to make sure to keep cold and flu remedies up and away from children.

"A lot of times people will take out their liquid products, Tylenol, acetaminophen or ibuprofen and keep it on the table for ease," Marraffa said. "People get distracted easily and we get a lot of calls about kids unintentionally grabbing the bottle and drinking it.”

Other holiday hazards Marraffa said the center gets calls about include children drinking alcohol that’s been left around.

"We get a lot of calls about alcohol, also hand sanitizer, especially now in flu season,"Marraffa said. "[Keep hand sanitizer] in a safe place to avoid children drinking it [as well as] regular alcohol in people's households that might be left on the table [with] kids walking around, especially after parties. [Pay] special attention to products that contain alcohol."

Marraffa also advises adults to keep vape pens and marijuana products stored away from children. Other potential hazards include prescription drugs, especially with grandparents and others visiting families for the holiday. She said families should have a safe place to store medication — like some of the cold and flu remedies that can look attractive to a child.

"Tasty flavors, pretty colors, that make it like a child wants to ingest it," Marraffa said. "All good things when you are giving it to a child for its intended use, but one other thing to think about, especially this time of year when medicines are around."

Marraffa says if a caregiver has any questions, they shouldn’t hesitate to call 1-800-222-1222. The poison center hotline is open 24 hours a day, even on the holiday.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.