A Few Tricks Can Help Make Halloween a Safe Treat for Kids

October 26, 2001
News Office: Wallace Ravven (415) 502-6397

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:

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

Tips for Trick-or-Treating

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

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.

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.

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.

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 can't 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 1-800-222-1222.

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.