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Safe Trick-or-Treating: Tips from the NJ Poison Center

A 3-year-old boy is out trick-or-treating with his parents and big sister when he bites into a glow stick, spilling the liquid inside onto his mouth, face, and hands. His mother calls the NJ Poison Center for help. “Halloween is one of the busiest times of the year for the doctors, nurses, and pharmacists answering calls for help on our 24 hour Poison Help line,” said Diane Calello, MD, executive and medical director of the state’s poison center. “We get calls about many things – from glow sticks to bug bites to belly aches.”

A common exposure during Halloween is the accidental ingestion of glow stick liquid. The liquid inside these glowing items is usually a clear, oily, colorless liquid. It is not toxic but can cause irritation to any part of the body that it comes into contact with, including the eyes, skin and mouth. “Parents often call 9-1-1 or spend hours in the emergency room when they could have simply called our poison experts for immediate medical advice, and stayed home” said Dr. Calello. Although such a situation rarely produces further problems, getting the liquid in the eye can be irritating and painful. This could possibly result in damage to the cornea if not washed out properly.

Another situation which causes a lot of calls are stomach aches/pains. “Parents may be concerned that symptoms are due to altered/tainted candy, when in fact it is usually just eating too much regular candy,” said Bruce Ruck, PharmD, DABT, Managing Director of the NJ Poison Center. “Keeping a watchful eye for signs of tampering or contamination is always important at Halloween.” Signs of tampering may include opened wrappers, wrapping which doesn’t match the candy inside, misspelling on the labels, or a strange appearance or odor of the candy itself.

The NJ Poison Center offers these additional safety tips for a safe and healthy Halloween.


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