As Iowans head to the costume shop to debate zombie versus vampire for this weekend’s party, Halloween is also a busy time for the Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center. Last year, there was a flood of calls dealing with those neon-colored glowsticks. Registered nurse Joan McVoy says some little tricksters who sink their fangs into the glow-in-the-dark adornments get treated with a trip to the Emergency Room.
“There’s a chemical that’s in those glowsticks,” McVoy says. “Kids love to put that plastic in their mouths and chew on it. We get a lot of calls because parents are upset because their kids’ mouths are glowing and they’re worried about that chemical.” She says it’s natural that parents might overreact when they see their child with a fluorescent green tongue and teeth.
“It isn’t something that you need to run in to an emergency room for, don’t do that,” McVoy says. “Call the poison center. The nurses will tell you what to do. If it gets in the eye though, the nurses will have certain instructions you need to follow as far as irrigation and we do follow-up calls with you.”
McVoy predicts the poison center will also get calls about dry ice which people plunk into their Halloween punch to create a spooky fog. It can also create painful frostbite on your face. “Don’t break it apart and put small pieces in individual glasses,” she says. “Definitely, if you’re going to use it, make sure it’s still in the solid form. If you have it in a big punch bowl, that’s fine.”
McVoy recommends parents inspect all treats when a child returns from trick-or-treating and all homemade goodies or those out of the wrapper should likely be tossed. If you have questions, the Sioux City-based poison control hotline is available around-the-clock at 800-222-1222.