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Holiday Horrors: Unsafe Toys and other Nightmares Before Xmas

Just when you thought you'd earned a bit of rest and relaxation before a roaring fire, perhaps with a small gift box to open and maybe a cup of eggnog by your side -- wait. According to the Dallas Morning News, the holidays are full of lurking safety issues, some real, some ridiculous. As Jacob Marley would say "take heed..."

Let's begin with a visit to the island of counterfeit toys. According to NBC Miami, south Florida's ports are being flooded with fake and dangerous toys. Federal customs agents recently intercepted a shipment of toys including little toy drums with parts that present a choking hazard, sweet yellow duckies coated in lead paint and green froggy lighters that actually shoot out flames. Also included were dozens of MP3 players, dolls and backpacks, less dangerous, but all fakes that violate intellectual property laws.

The worst toy on this naughty list is a real hazard. Also present in the intercepted shipment were black toy guns with no markings to indicate they are not real. As Harold Woodward, director of field operations in Miami said, "...if in the wrong hands, if in the wrong situation, if this weapon was pointed at any one of us or used in the perpetuation of a crime ... any common sense individual would say, this is probably a real weapon."

Meanwhile, back at the cozy fireplace, use caution opening that gift and drinking that eggnog. Please be aware that 6,000 of the more klutzy among us wind up in the ER due to package opening related injuries. No kidding. Further, one sip of that eggnog can also send you to the hospital. Although the Morning News reports "no specific eggnog-related data," the CDC estimates that one in 50 consumers could be exposed to a contaminated egg each year.

As if that weren't enough, do try to keep the mistletoe and poinsettia off the menu and away from the kids. Last year, Poison Control received 132 calls about mistletoe and 1,174 for poinsettias. It gets better: there is also a report that in 2008, Poison Control Centers received 426 calls about the ingestion of American and English holly. Why any grown or even little person would even try to place a sharp and thorny plant in their mouth defies imagination.

Have a warm and safe holiday season. And for heaven's sake, don't eat any holly.

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