It’s almost time for every poison center’s favorite holiday: Halloween! From skeletons to bubbling witches brew, poisons are a featured part of many haunted celebrations. Fortunately that’s just fun and games. Here’s some information to ensure you have a non-toxic holiday.
Poisoned Candy — An Urban Legend
Last month, we posted about poison myths. It turns out we forgot one: poisoned Halloween candy. For years this myth has caused parents grief, but I am here to set you free!
This myth resurfaces every few years when a child unexpectedly dies on or right after Halloween. Poison is assumed to be the culprit, but the investigation almost always reveals some other cause of death (like heart failure or infection). There is one exception: in the 1970s, a parent knowingly and intentionally poisoned Halloween candy and gave it to his own child. According to the myth-busting site snopes.com, there has never been a verified case of mass poisoning of children through Halloween candy.
While you don’t have to worry that someone is out to poison your children on Halloween, people do (rarely) find objects, like needles or razors, in their candy. What’s important to know is that this is very unlikely. When it comes to candy, the main concern is making sure that you small children don’t eat anything this is small and therefore a choking hazard (Nerds, M&Ms, etc).
What is this white stuff on my chocolate?
Have you ever unwrapped a piece of chocolate and noticed that it was discolored or had a white coating? This is a phenomenon called “bloomed chocolate”. Simply put, chocolate is picky. If it is not made and stored at the correct temperature and humidity, the fat and sugars will separate and rise to the top. Yes – it’s still safe to eat. But, if you’re a chocolate snob like me, you won’t find it very satisfying.
Glow sticks are for wearing, not chewing
The biggest danger on Halloween is not the candy, it’s walking around in the dark. Families often increase their visibility by wearing glow sticks. The glowing liquid tastes bad, but it is not harmful if swallowed. Do call the poison center if any gets in the eyes. Permanent damage is not expected if the correct first aid steps are taken right away.
Nice face paint!
As with glow sticks, most makeups and face paints are non-toxic but be careful not to get them in the eyes. If someone has sensitive skin, you may consider doing a small test application. If you get any irritation on the skin or in the eyes, our experts can give you some free first aid advice.
Nothing says spooky like dry ice
Are you going all out to create a spooky yard? Dry ice can be a great way to add an eerie fog, but handle it with care. It is so cold it can burn the skin (frostbite!). Never handle it with your bear hands. The “fog” is the result of frozen carbon dioxide subliming: going directly from solid to gaseous form. The gaseous “fog” is not toxic (it’s the same thing we breathe out!). Dry ice is also used in punch to give it a witch’s brew look. As it melts into the punch, it is non-toxic. But putting chunks of the dry ice in your mouth will cause burns.
No matter what happens on Halloween, rest assured that our poison experts can answer your call. They will be available 24/7 to help. Happy trick-or-treating!
Download and print our information about Halloween Safety in English or Spanish here.