Halloween health concerns loom around holiday

MINNEAPOLIS - Many kids are now wearing glow sticks while out trick-or-treating, but there is a problem with them some parents may not think about.

While the liquid inside is not poisonous it can cause an upset stomach, irritate skin and sting the eyes. The side effects create more than 500 calls each year at the Hennepin Regional Poison Center.

"These can be really irritating to get into your eye and should be washed out as much as they can," said Dr. Becky Gardner.

Gardner said warm water is best and eyes may need to be rinsed for several minutes.

Gardner said the poison center also gets calls about little ones getting into Halloween makeup.

"They might cause some upset tummies and things like that," she said.

But she said makeup is usually non-toxic; however, if a child is acting unusual, parents should call a doctor or the poison center.

What about dry ice in the punch bowl?Gardner said direct contact with skin can cause a burn like frostbite, but it's simply frozen carbon dioxide so it shouldn't hurt a person in any other way.

While it's not something you'd call the poison center for, the cleanliness of masks is something else to consider. A lot of people try them on, but a biologist in Arizona recently found, of the dozen masks he tested, all of them had bacteria on the inside.

Doctors recommend using an alcohol wipe and wipe it down before you putting it on.

If you have a party, don't leave alcoholic beverages sitting out overnight.

"Remember that your kids might get up before you," Gardner said. "If [the drinks are] lying around, it's something they might get into and might be dangerous for them as well."

She said keep medicines out of reach because kids can mistake them for candy.

"There are some medications, even if [it's] one pill your kid gets into, [that] can have a lot of dangerous side effects."

Finally, check all candy before kids eat it, making sure packaging is intact, and then your family's Halloween should be happy.

The Hennepin Regional Poison Center phone number is 1-800-222-1222.


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