Charcoal briquettes are made up of the finely broken up pieces of coal and a variety of additives are mixed in to act as binder which holds the charcoal briquette together. Examples of these additives include wood charcoal, limestone, starch and sawdust. Some briquettes also have lighter fluid added to make it easier to set on fire. A call to the poison center usually involves a curious toddler taking a bite or two from a briquette. The charcoal and the additives will not cause serious symptoms in small amounts, but can be a choking hazard for little ones.
If you find your child has bitten into a charcoal briquette, do not panic. Take the briquette away from them, and rinse the mouth out with water or wipe the mouth out with a soft, wet cloth. Then, give the child a serving size of something they like to drink. Make sure to wash their hands well with soap and water so no residue is rubbed into the eye. If problems start or you have questions, call the Missouri Poison Center right away at 1-800-222-1222. The poison center is open all day, every day for poisoning emergencies and questions.
CAUTION: Charcoal briquettes do not emit smoke, but they do emit carbon monoxide which is colorless and odorless. Grilling or barbecuing with charcoal briquettes should NEVER be done indoors.