As children get ready for a night of trick-or-treating, their personal safety is on the minds of family members. By following these safety tips from the Oklahoma Poison Control Center, Halloween can be a much safer holiday.


As children get ready for a night of trick-or-treating, their personal safety is on the minds of family members. By following these safety tips from the Oklahoma Poison Control Center, Halloween can be a much safer holiday.

If possible, provide a meal or healthful snack right before sending children out trick-or-treating. Before leaving the house, explain to children why their candy needs to be checked. Insist that the child bring the treat bag to you before eating any of the items.

Examination of all treats is a good safety practice. Throw away any treats not in the original wrapper or that are unwrapped, have faded, torn or perforated wrappers; and any candy that shows signs of rewrapping. If fruit was given, it should be undamaged, washed and cut before eating. Small objects can become lodged in a youngster’s throat. Parents should sort the candies to make sure that younger children don’t have access to small hard candies, peanuts, seeds, gum or other small items.

If using face paints, glues or glitters, be sure they are made of nontoxic materials. Be aware that some children have allergic reactions to these products and may develop a rash or experience itching. If this occurs, remove the makeup immediately and thoroughly clean the skin with mild soap and water.

Glow sticks and necklaces, popular during Halloween, sometimes break or are chewed open by children. In small amounts, the liquid is considered nontoxic. However, if the glow stick contents come in contact with the skin, irritation and a rash may occur. If contact is made with the eyes, severe irritation is possible. Oral ingestion can cause nausea and burning.

Shannon Holcombe, education coordinator for the Oklahoma Poison Control Center, stresses that “the best poison prevention practices are to let children take candy from people whom the parents know and to carefully review all candies and treats. If any candy is suspect, parents should report the incident to the police department. If children show any symptoms – such as vomiting, dizziness or shortness of breath – after eating food or candy, parents should call the Oklahoma Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222. ”

When holding a Halloween party or get-together where smoking and/or alcohol will be available, hosts are advised to make sure to dispose of all bottles of alcohol and leftover drink cups as well as cigarette butts, as these items can be very poisonous to small children. Dry ice – often used in punch bowls to create a smoke or fog effect – should not be used in individual glasses. If swallowed, oral burns may occur. Direct contact with the skin can cause a frostbite-type injury; therefore, gloves should be worn when handling. When using dry ice, keep it in a large, well-ventilated area.

With all the added noise, decorations, candles and candy, pets need extra protection on Halloween, too, especially black cats, which should be kept indoors. Be sure candy is kept out of their reach, as some varieties can be harmful to pets. Depending on the amount eaten, chocolate (baker’s, semisweet, milk and dark) is potentially poisonous to many animals. Vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperactivity and an increase in thirst, urination and heart rate can be seen with the ingestion of as little as a quarter ounce of baking chocolate by a 10-pound dog.

Pharmacists and registered nurses at the poison center are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1 (800) 222-1222.

Please do not email the poison center or a member of the poison center staff, as poisoning emergencies are not handled through email. The Oklahoma Poison Control Center is a program of the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy at the OU Health Sciences Center. For more information, log on to www.oklahomapoison.org.