Girl in Halloween costumes holding pumpkinDuring the month of October, poison centers receive thousands of calls about Halloween-related exposures, such as glow products, dry ice, cosmetics, and Halloween craft products. By saving the Poison Help line, 800-222-1222, as a contact in your mobile phone, parents and guardians can help ensure that children stay safe, and be prepared in case of an emergency. Here are a few additional safety tips to help prevent exposures and injuries on Halloween:

Candy and Treats

  • When trick-or-treating, instruct children not to open their candy until they return home. Inspect all candy for any signs of tampering (tears, pinholes, discoloration, etc.) before eating or allowing children to eat it. If you should find an object in the candy or find anything unusual about it, call Poison Help at 800-222-1222.
  • Accept only wrapped and packaged candy. Do not eat or allow children to eat candy that has been unwrapped or opened. Throw away any candy or food that is not wrapped tightly by the candy company.
  • Do not give homemade or unwrapped treats to trick-or-treaters, and do not allow children to eat homemade treats from strangers. Also, be wary of any treats that may contain marijuana or other drugs. If you suspect a child has consumed candy containing a drug, call Poison Help at 800-222-1222 for immediate assistance.
  • Some children have to follow certain dietary restrictions which prohibit them from eating the traditional treats offered on Halloween. If you suspect someone is experiencing an allergic reaction to an ingredient in a Halloween treat, call Poison Help immediately at 800-222-1222. If the person is having trouble breathing, call 911.
  • Avoid giving choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, or small toys as treats to young children, and be aware of any choking hazards young children in your care may collect.

Cosmetics

  • Test face makeup in a small area of skin first (preferably on the arm) to check for allergic reaction before applying it to the face. Avoid decorating the face or body with products that aren’t intended for the skin. If you suspect you are having an adverse reaction to a cosmetic, call Poison Help at 800 222-1222.
  • Avoid the eye area when applying costume makeup to the face, as well as remove makeup before bedtime to prevent eye and/or skin irritation.
  • Throw out any makeup that has a very bad smell; this could be a sign of contamination.
  • Do not allow children to ingest any cosmetics. If a child swallows a cosmetic product like Halloween make up, call Poison Help at 800-222-1222.

Other Halloween Hazards

  • Remind children not to chew on or break open glow sticks or any other glow-in-the-dark products. While the liquid in the majority of these products is considered minimally toxic in small amounts, it can cause skin irritation. Eyes are especially sensitive to glow stick liquid. Never put these products in the microwave.
  • Handle dry ice properly and carefully. Oral/skin exposure or ingestion of dry ice can be very dangerous. Do not store dry ice in the freezer or an unventilated area.
  • When working on Halloween crafts, make sure to read each products’ label carefully as some may contain ingredients that are toxic or hazardous. Always keep products in their original packaging, which includes safety information. Do not use products on skin or in food unless the directions specifically indicate to do so.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Gayle Finkelstein, MSRN, is the Vermont Poison Control Coordinator for the Northern New England Poison Center.

Halloween Safety Tips

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