Halloween should be a fun time for children. IU Health La Porte and Starke hospitals, in conjunction with the Indiana Poison Center, would like to offer the following suggestions so that your small ghosts and goblins enjoy a safe and happy event.
Before going out trick-or-treating, feed your children to reduce their urge to snack on candy they collect. Take your own small bag of candy so they won’t be tempted to eat from their bags before treats can be checked. Consider giving non-edible treats to children who visit your home. Be sure to give out age-appropriate treats since young children can easily choke on small objects.
Costumes should be nonflammable, warm and an appropriate length to avoid trips and falls. Masks should fit properly and have large eyeholes to improve breathing and vision as well as be raised to allow a clear view when crossing the street. Consider using makeup instead of a mask to allow unobstructed vision. Read labels to make sure that face paints and makeup are non-toxic. Some products may contain emollient laxatives, talc or hydrocarbons, which can cause problems. If any makeup is swallowed, treatment depends on the amount ingested, ingredients and symptoms. Call the Poison Center if you think makeup or other costume components have been swallowed. Wash skin with soap and water if a skin reaction develops.
Trick or treat only in familiar, well-lit areas. Better yet, give or attend an indoor party. Children should always be accompanied by an adult. Take a flashlight with you and put reflective tape on clothing and goody bags. Look carefully before crossing neighborhood streets. For high traffic areas, use the crosswalk.
After you return home, carefully check all candy before allowing it to be eaten and only eat treats that are in their original unopened wrappers. Throw away any candy in wrappers that are faded, have holes, tears or signs of re-wrapping. When in doubt, throw it out. Dr. James Mowry, director of the Indiana Poison Center, encourages parents to use careful visual examination to rule out contamination and glass in treats.
Children can draw a face on a pumpkin or scrape out the contents, but an adult should do the actual carving. Roasted pumpkin seeds can be a tasty treat, but they can also be a choking hazard for young children. Be fire safe and keep jack-o’-lanterns away from doorsteps and landings where costumes may brush against the flame. Indoor lanterns should be kept away from curtains, decorations or other furnishings. Glow sticks are a safe alternative to candles. Exposure to a small amount of fluid from a glow stick generally only causes a mild irritation. Contact with the eyes can cause moderate irritation. If the contents are drunk, nausea and irritation can result. For skin exposure, remove any contaminated clothing and flood the area with cool water for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Wash gently with soap and water and rinse. In case of eye contacts, flood the eye with warm (not hot) water for 15 to 20 minutes and have the person blink as much as possible. Do not force the eyelid open and do not put in any type of eye drops. If the contents are swallowed, wipe out the mouth with a clean wet cloth and give a small amount of clear liquid to drink, then call the Poison Center.
Dry ice can be used in punch bowls, but should not be used in individual glasses. Direct contact with the skin or inside of the mouth can cause a frostbite-type of injury. Wash the skin immediately with lukewarm water. Rinse the mouth and call the Poison Center for further instructions.
For more information, call the Indiana Poison Center 24 hours a day at 800.222.1222 or visit iuhealth.org/poisoncontrol .
Indiana University Health La Porte Hospital, a part of Indiana University Health, has provided leading care to La Porte and the surrounding community for more than 100 years.