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October 27, 2011

Keeping kids safe on Halloween

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While Halloween always brings an increase in phone calls to the University of Virginia Health System Blue Ridge Poison Center , the most common call has nothing to do with candy.

According to Kristin Wenger, an education coordinator at the Poison Center, the call most often handled by the center’s certified poison experts at Halloween is exposures to the liquid from light sticks. The poison center is open 24 hours a day every day for free, confidential help and can be reached at 800.222.1222 .

Here are some Halloween safety tips for parents from the Blue Ridge Poison Center.

Light sticks

Light sticks and other glow-in-the-dark paints and products are very low in toxicity, generally causing only mild problems. However, they may irritate the skin or eyes on contact, and swallowing the liquid inside a light stick may cause nausea or vomiting.

Halloween treats

Tampering with candy or other treats is extremely rare, Wenger says, but there are a few steps parents can take to help keep children safe.

Parents should accompany young children and only allow trick-or-treating at familiar homes. Parents should insist on inspecting all candy before it’s eaten. If a child might snack before getting home, provide a separate sack of candy to take trick-or-treating. Serve dinner before trick-or-treating to discourage snacking. Throw out unwrapped, re-wrapped or suspicious candy. Throw out any homemade treats that did not come from trusted sources. Wash fruit, inspect for holes where a foreign object could have been inserted, and cut into pieces. Hard pieces of candy, gum and peanuts are choking hazards for young children. Keep candy away from pets. Chocolate can be toxic to dogs.


Check the label: The Food and Drug Administration must approve cosmetics, face paints and theatrical makeup for use. Follow instructions carefully: Products approved for use on fingernails or hair may not be safe to use on a child’s skin. Products safe for most of a child’s skin may not be safe to use near a child’s eyes.

Dry ice

Dry ice is not toxic, but it can cause thermal burns if touched or swallowed. Here are some safety guidelines for using dry ice:

Use tongs or insulated gloves to handle dry ice. Seek medical help immediately if someone touches or swallows dry ice. Never use dry ice in an unventilated room or car. Anyone using dry ice should immediately seek fresh air if having trouble breathing. As it melts, dry ice releases carbon dioxide, which will sink and “pool” in low places. This could be dangerous to pets, small children or people laying or sitting near the floor.

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