Be Safe July 4th: Alcohol, Torch Fuel, Fireworks Pose Poison Risks

Source: American Association of Poison Control Centers, VA.
Source: American Association of Poison Control Centers, VA.

American Association of Poison Control Centers Provides Safety Recommendations for July 4th Celebrations

Released by Angela Gonzales,

As millions of Americans prepare to celebrate Independence Day this weekend, the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) encourages the public to take a few simple safety precautions in order to have a safe, poison-free Fourth of July.

America’s 55 Poison Centers manage a call every 10-11 seconds. “Poison Centers stay busy year-round; however, they tend to get more calls during the warmer months. Between June and August of 2015 alone, poison centers managed approximately 740,000 calls,” said Stephen T. Kaminski, JD, AAPCC CEO and Executive Director. “While the Fourth of July is a time for families and friends to celebrate the holiday, it is also a time when poison centers anticipate calls about poison mishaps that can occur while cooking and entertaining outdoors. By taking a few extra precautions and saving the Poison Help number — 800.222.1222 — in your phone, you can help assure that you and your loved ones enjoy fun and safe festivities.”

During the summer months, poison centers receive more calls about potential poisonings related to food, alcohol, hydrocarbons like lighter fluid and tiki-torch-style fuel, and fireworks, than any other time of year.

A searchable list of poison centers is online here.

Food Poisoning

Symptoms of food poisoning usually appear within hours of eating contaminated food, and often include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pains, fever, and diarrhea. Food poisoning symptoms can range from mild to severe and can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. While most food poisoning cases resolve without medical care, some episodes can be more severe and require expert treatment advice.

When preparing food for cookouts and picnics, remember to keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods in your grocery bags, in the refrigerator, and while prepping. Wash your hands, kitchen surfaces, utensils, and cutting boards frequently, especially after handling or preparing uncooked food and before touching or eating other foods. Additionally, use the microwave, cold water, or the refrigerator method to defrost your frozen meat or poultry.

While cooking, use a food thermometer to check if meat is fully cooked and heated high enough to kill harmful bacteria, and refrigerate leftovers promptly – within two hours – at 40° Fahrenheit or below to help reduce the risk of bacterial growth. Prevent cross-contamination by completely and securely covering foods in the refrigerator, and consume or freeze leftovers within 3-4 days.


Last year, poison centers managed approximately 11,000 cases of alcohol exposure in children under six. Children do not process and eliminate alcohol in the same way as adults, and even a small amount of ingested alcohol can be dangerous for children. Adults should take special care to keep wine, beer, liquor and other alcoholic beverages that may be served during the July 4th festivities up and away from children. If a child ingests an alcoholic beverage or mouthwash containing alcohol, call Poison Help right away at 1 (800) 222-1222.


In addition to food and alcohol safety, it is also important to take extra care around hydrocarbons, such as lamp oil, lighter fluid, and tiki-style torch fuel. These oils are often pleasantly scented and packaged in containers resembling drink bottles. They can cause “chemical pneumonia” if even a few drops get into someone’s airway, especially a child’s, which is why it’s imperative to always keep these products in their original containers and stored up and away from children. If someone swallows or inhales any amount of lamp oil, tiki-style torch oil, or lighter fluid, do NOT induce vomiting as this can make the problem worse, but rather call Poison Help immediately at 1 800.222.1222.


Finally, poisonous exposures can be prevented by using extra precaution when handling fireworks. Fireworks contain a number of toxic chemicals that can be very dangerous if swallowed. Keep fireworks away from children and pets. If a person or pet ingests part or all of a firework, call Poison Help at 1 (800) 222-1222 immediately.

For more summer prevention tips and resources, visit AAPCC’s Summer Poison Safety webpage at

For more information, the media may contact Angela Gonzales, AAPCC Associate Manager, Communications and Outreach, at 703-894-1865 or email.

AAPCC supports the nation’s 55 poison center members in their efforts to treat and prevent drug, consumer product, animal, environmental and food poisoning. Members staff the Poison Help hotline at 1-800-222-1222 that provides free, confidential, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year from toxicology specialists, including nurses, pharmacists, physicians and poison information providers. In addition, AAPCC maintains the only poison information and surveillance database in the United States, providing real-time monitoring of unusual poisoning patterns, chemical exposures and other emerging public health hazards. AAPCC partners with federal agencies such as HRSA, CDC, FDA and EPA, as well as private industry.

To learn more, visit, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter (@AAPCC).

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Kay Whatley serves as Editor and Reporter with The Grey Area News. Kay is a published author with over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. Kay Whatley is wife to Frank Whatley, founder of The Grey Area™ newspaper and The Grey Area News online news website.