Seasonal Tips: Winter (PDF, 136 KB)
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When accidents happen with chemicals or medicine, call Poison Help (1-800-222-1222). Get help right away from a nurse, pharmacist, or other poison expert.
Many people think poinsettias and Christmas cacti are poisonous. They aren't. But here are some real dangers to watch out for in winter:
• Antifreeze is a poisonous liquid used in cars. It has a sweet taste. Children and animals like its taste. If even a little is swallowed, it can be harmful. It can cause kidney damage and death.
• Keep antifreeze, and all strong chemicals, in the containers they came in. Cap them tightly. Store them in a locked cabinet.
• Before throwing away an antifreeze container, rinse it with water. Replace the safety cap. Place the container in the trash.
• If eaten, salt used on driveways and sidewalks in winter can harm a pet or child.
• Store such salt with other poisons. Keep it out of reach and in a locked cabinet.
• Avoid using glass mercury thermometers. A glass thermometer can break in a child's mouth.
• Use a digital thermometer to avoid the risk of breaking glass.
• Stay with children when taking their temperature
• Mercury is a hazardous waste. Spilled mercury should be cleaned up properly. Call Poison Help (1-800-222-1222) or your local health department for advice.
Carbon Monoxide (CO)
• CO is the #1 cause of poison deaths. Every year, CO poisoning results in hundreds of deaths. It causes many thousands of illnesses.
• CO is a poisonous gas. It has no color, odor, or taste. All fuel-burning devices make CO. They do this mostly when they aren't working properly, or are not used in a ventilated space. CO can collect in closed areas.
Sources of CO include:
• gas furnaces
• gas water heaters
• gas stoves
• gas ovens
• kerosene space heaters
• wood and gas fireplaces
• wood-burning stoves
• power generators
• car engines
People at greatest risk for CO poisoning are:
• pregnant women
• young children
• older people
• people with diseases that affect breathing
• people with heart disease
Signs of CO poisoning are similar to signs common to flu and some cold-weather viruses:
To prevent CO poisonings in your home:
• Have at least one CO alarm in your home.The best places for a CO alarm are near bedrooms and close to furnaces.
• Have your heating system, vents, and chimney checked every year by experts.
• Always follow product instructions for installing and repairing appliances that burn fuel.
• Never burn charcoal inside a house or garage.
• Never use a gas oven to heat a house or apartment.
• Never use unvented fuel-burning devices in a house or apartment.
• Never run a car in a closed garage.
Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration