Toddler and Preschool  |  Winter  |  Carbon monoxide  |  Antifreeze  |  Pet hazards

Prevent Cold Weather Poisonings

The Bottom Line

There are special poisoning concerns during the winter: family travel, family gatherings, carbon monoxide poisoning, and winter chemicals for the car. Follow Poison Control's prevention tips to keep your family safe this winter.

The Full Story

Take a few minutes to prevent poisoning during the holidays and the cold weather.

  • During parties and gatherings, be sure that one person is responsible for each young child! Keep children out of purses, gift bags, the medicine cabinet, and the punch bowl.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms outside of every sleeping area in your home. If you already have carbon monoxide alarms, check the batteries.
  • Store antifreeze and windshield washer solution in a locked cabinet, where children and pets can't get to them.
  • Keep medicines and household products locked up where children can't find them. Be especially careful with grandparents' medicines.
  • Put the Poison Control phone number on or near every phone. Program the number into your cell phone. Make webPOISONCONTROL® one of your browser favorites. Download the webPOISONCONTROL app on the App Store or Google play. Call 1-800-222-1222 for magnets, phone stickers, and other materials to keep you and your family safe from poisons.
  • If someone gets into a poison or medicine, use the webPOISONCONTROL online tool for guidance or call 1-800-222-1222 right away. Expert help is available around the clock, every day, even holidays. 

Rose Ann Gould Soloway, RN, BSN, MSEd, DABAT emerita
Clinical Toxicologist

For More Information

For more prevention tips, check the Poison & Prevention Info section of this site, categorized by age, season or substance. You can reach that section of the site through the navigation bar and menus at the top of this page, just below the black header. 


Henry K, Harris CR. Deadly ingestions. Pediatr Clin N Am. 2006;53:293– 315.


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Prevention Tips

  • Assign a single person to watch a child during family gatherings.
  • Be as careful with winter-related chemicals as you are with medicines and household products.

This Really Happened

A 22-month-old girl swallowed an unknown amount of a pink cold-weather car fuel additive liquid; someone had put it into a cup. The product contained two dangerous ingredients: 68% methanol, a toxic alcohol that may cause severe poisoning including kidney failure, blindness and death; and a hydrocarbon lubricant, an ingredient that if aspirated (inhaled) into the lungs could cause breathing problems and lung injury.

The child gagged and vomited. Her mom called Poison Control. The child was immediately sent into the nearest emergency room; the emergency physician consulted Poison Control. The child was started on fomepizole, an antidote to methanol. An x-ray showed that the child might have pneumonia from aspirating the product.

The child was admitted to the intensive care unit, where she continued to receive the methanol antidote. Also, her breathing was monitored. After two days, her blood methanol levels were negative, her chest x-ray became normal, and she was able to go home.