A few tricks can help make Halloween a safe treat for kids

By Wallace Ravven on October 26, 2001

The statewide California Poison Control System (CPCS) urges parents to follow
these Halloween safety precautions to assure that kids enjoy the fun of
trick-or-treating without running into holiday hazards:


TIPS FOR TRICK-OR-TREATING

—An adult should accompany young children, and Halloween visits should be
limited to familiar, local neighborhoods.

—Walkways and lawns should be made safe by removing obstacles and leaving
outside lights on.

—Stay away from barking dogs or other upset animals.

—Carry a flashlight after dusk and watch for cars.

—Wear brightly colored costumes that are made of flame-retardant materials. 
Use reflective tape on costumes and trick-or-treat bags.


TREATS

—Feed children before they go trick-or-treating.  Give them a small amount of
candy or other food to eat while trick-or treating, so they won’t be tempted to
eat from the bag before their treats can be checked.

—Parents should inspect all treats before they are eaten.

—If you are truly suspicious or think someone has deliberately contaminated
the product, call the police.

—Eat only those treats in their original, unopened wrappers. Throw away candy
if wrappers are faded, have holes or tears, or signs of re-wrapping.

—Throw away all unwrapped candy.

—Check fruits and homemade treats carefully to make sure that foreign objects
such as pins, tacks and razor blades are not present.

—Drugs can look like candy.  Anything that looks suspicious should be thrown
away.

—Food that is “off-color” or doesn’t smell right should be thrown away.

—Some treats, especially chocolate, can be poisonous to pets.


COSTUMES

—Face paints, glues and glitters should be made of non-toxic material. 
Parents should be aware that some children have allergic reactions to these
products, such as a rash or itching.  If this occurs, remove the makeup
immediately and thoroughly clean the skin with mild soap and water.

—Costumes should be flame-resistant and with room enough to allow a child to
dress warmly underneath.

—Masks should be easy to see and breathe through.


PUMPKIN CARVING/JACK O’LANTERNS

—Children can have fun drawing a face on a pumpkin and scraping out the
contents, but an adult should do the carving.

—Jack O’Lanterns with candles should be watched carefully and should be placed
where they cannot start a fire.


Halloween also means parties for parents.  Parents should make sure all alcohol
and cigarette butts are cleaned up.  These items can poison small children.

If any child becomes sick after eating a Halloween treat, seek immediate
medical attention.  If possible, take the remains of the suspected food or
candy to help medical professionals determine the cause of the illness.

If you suspect someone has been poisoned, call the California Poison Control
System.  The 24-hour toll-free emergency number is 1-800-876-4766. 

The CPCS website is http://www.calpoison.org

The statewide California Poison Control System (CPCS) allows Californians to
dial one toll-free number from anywhere in the state.  CPCS consists of four
divisions located at Valley Children’s Hospital in Fresno/Madera, UC Davis
Medical Center in Sacramento, UC San Diego Medical Center and the
UCSF-affiliated San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center.  The CPCS is
managed by the UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy.

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