Glow Stick Poisoning Common At Halloween

Credit: Josh Hallett - Flikr under Creative Commons license

Although many may think glow sticks are helping their children stay safe during Halloween they can actually be more of a hazard.

The Palmetto Poison Center reports that glow stick poisoning happens much more frequently during the holiday season especially during Halloween.

“Parents like to give them to children when they’re walking in the dark so they can see a little bit better or to be seen by cars or other people,” said Dr. Jill Michels a Clinical Pharmacist and Director of the Palmetto Poison Center at USC’s South Carolina College of Pharmacy.

But if the child is too young, Michels said usually under the age of 4, than the glow stick can turn into a hazard

“The concern is parents will give it to younger children who think it’s a toy and they’ll chew on it,” said Michels.

The glow stick is minimally toxic and will not cause long term damage to a child. If the child does bite into a glow stick, remove the glow stick from their mouth to prevent choking on the plastic and rinse their mouth with cold water.

Dr. Michels said the glow stick liquid, Dibutyl phthalate, isn’t poisonous but can cause vomiting or a burning sensation. Parent’s should not need to visit a doctor but should call the poison center right away.

“It happened to my nephew a while ago and we just washed his mouth out, no big deal,” said Nancy Kennedy who has been working at the Palmetto Poison Center for two years now.

Kennedy said the glow stick liquid really doesn’t do any major damage and a Popsicle can help the child get rid of the remaining liquid.

“Around Halloween there are just a lot of festivals and events so parents might give them the glow sticks to keep them busy. It’s usually in the car on the way home,” said Kennedy.

Michels said there were over 300 calls involving glow sticks last year alone.

There are also other hazards when it comes to Halloween that parents should be aware of. With all the different kinds of candies and treats floating around your home many of these can resemble medication that can be harmful when consumed by small children.

Dr. Michels compares a small chewable Tums square with a piece of bubble gum and they look completely identical. She also puts a few red Tylenol tablets and Red Hots candies next to each other and it was equally difficult to tell them apart.

Michels also recommends checking your children’s candy before they eat it. Feeding your children before they go out to trick-or-treat could make them less tempted to eat candy that hasn’t been inspected.

Should you need them the Palmetto Poison Center is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-222-1222.

Palmetto Poison Center Halloween Safety Tips:

  • Children should not eat any treats until a parent has had time to inspect them.
  • All candy needs to be inspected for small puncture holes and the candy should be in its original, unopened container.
  • Feed children before taking them out to trick or treat so they will be less likely to snack.
  • Throw away any candy that is questionable
  • Use Halloween makeup that is non-toxic.

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