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Health educator offers holiday safety tips

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Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

ARTESIA — A health educator with the New Mexico Poison Center in Albuquerque is reminding people to be safe during the upcoming holiday season.

The first recommendation Jacqueline Kakos makes is cooking food to the proper temperature, “and don’t leave leftovers out on the counter for more than two hours.”

She said anything left on the counter longer than that timeframe should be placed immediately in the refrigerator.

When it comes to drinks, Kakos said all alcoholic beverages should be placed where children can’t reach them.

“As little as 3 ounces could be lethal to a toddler weighing 25 pounds or less,” she said.

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She also suggests that plants be kept out of the way of young children as well.

“And don’t let children or pets drink that (Christmas) tree water because it may have preservatives in it,” Kakos said.

Carbon monoxide is something else people need to be aware of during the holiday season. Kakos said people use gas-powered appliances more during this time of year.

“All fuel-burning equipment and cars emit carbon monoxide,” Kakos said. “The only way you can detect it is if you have a detector, you can’t smell, taste or see this gas. You really do need a working detector.”

She said such a detector should be placed outside of sleeping areas and possibly placing them at every level of the house.

When it comes to toys, Kakos said parents should also be aware of batteries.

“All batteries should be out of sight and reach of small children,” she said.

Another suggestion Kakos has is leaving vitamins and medicine out of the reach of children since it’s flu season.

“Tell visitors to do the same,” she said. “We don’t want them to leave them on the nightstand and, you want to make sure that you read and follow label directions. Because a lot of people take Tylenol and they don’t realize if they get a cold or flu and take a special kind of medicine, and that also has acetaminophen in it.”

Kakos said that ingredient can cause liver damage.

“So we want people to know they’re not taking more than one medication, with the same ingredient in it to avoid overdose,” she said.

Kakos added that people should also be aware of holiday decorations, like snow globes. She said some contain antifreeze.

“The water in there is standing most of the time. When you shake them you want to avoid any kind of bacterial ingestion,” she said. “Make sure you supervise children when playing with these snow globes, so that if it does break, you take care of it right away.”

“Some decorations and lights may have lead,” Kakos added. “So just make sure you wash your hands after you hang the decorations.”

Kakos also suggests that people have the number for the New Mexico Poison Center handy just in case.

“The number is 1-800-222-1222 and wherever you’re at in the country, you dial that number and you get the poison center,” she said.

She said the poison center in our state is manned by pharmacists.

“This is all a free public service program,” Kakos said. “So everything here is free and confidential.”

She added that the center is manned all the time, “this service is offered in 70 different languages, including Navajo.”

Kakos said those who answer the phone have gone through extensive training.

“They have to take a difficult test every five years for certification. So they really know their toxicology.”

Kakos said the hotline is a strong advantage for those living in rural parts of our state.

“It saves people a whole lot of time,” she said. “The nearest medical facility could be hundreds of miles away and it saves a lot of money.”

Last year, she said they saved the state nearly $50 million in health care costs.

Kakos added that the New Mexico Poison Center has a Facebook page and she said people may like them on that social media.

General assignment reporter Mike Smith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 307, or at sports2@rdrnews.com.