Holiday Warning from UA's Poison Center: Protect Children from Accidental Alcohol Poisonings

"Children often accidentally drink alcohol after holiday parties"

Wine, cocktails and spiked eggnog may make your holidays festive, but they’re no party for young children. The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center at The University of Arizona College of Pharmacy and Safe Kids Tucson warn parents to make sure alcohol is never within a child’s reach.

“Children often accidentally drink alcohol after holiday parties,” says Jude McNally, managing director of the poison center. “They see partially empty drink glasses on a table or counter and sample them. It is very important for parents to clear away all glasses, punch bowls and other containers with alcoholic beverages as soon as guests leave. Kids’ systems can’t handle alcohol, so even a little bit can be very harmful.”

Ingesting as little as 3 ounces of hard liquor potentially can be fatal to a child weighing 25 pounds. Alcohol causes blood sugar levels to drop, which can lead to confusion, seizures or even comas. During 2007, the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center received 88 calls about Arizona children under 5 accidentally drinking alcoholic beverages.

As Christmas approaches, McNally also warns that curious young children sometimes accidentally poison themselves by sampling colognes or aftershaves that contain ethanol alcohol. These products are dangerous to keep under the tree as gifts or otherwise within easy reach of youngsters.

Call the poison center anytime you think a child may have swallowed alcohol or another product that could cause harm. Safe Kids Tucson suggests that parents keep the poison center’s phone number – (800) 222-1222 -- programmed into their phones or posted where all family members can see it. The center is open 24 hours daily.

Find more poison-prevention tips and how to receive a poison center magnet or sticker with the above phone number at www.pharmacy.arizona.edu/outreach/poison


About Safe Kids Tucson
Safe Kids Tucson is a network of community partners working to prevent unintentional deaths and injuries to children ages 14 and under.
About the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center
The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center is a Center of Excellence at The University of Arizona College of Pharmacy. The center is certified by the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Specially trained pharmacists answer about 75,000 calls from Arizonans a year. About half of the calls concern a human exposure to something toxic, and about half of those calls involve young children.