Iowans who know better than to give very young kids a lighted sparkler might instead hand that child a glow stick, which one expert says is not a good alternative. Registered nurse Joan McVoy says those fluorescent glow sticks are made from soft plastic and youngsters love to chew on them.
McVoy predicts poison control centers in Iowa and nationwide will be flooded with calls about them over the upcoming holiday weekend. “Fourth of July and Halloween are the two times of the year we get most of these calls,” McVoy says. “We get calls from parents calling because their child’s mouth is glowing with that chemical. It’s got a really strong chemical taste and an odor and it can be irritating to the mouth.”
That liquid can also stain furniture, carpet and clothing. McVoy says the chemical shouldn’t taste good, but it won’t stop kids from swallowing it. She says glow sticks should not be given to kids younger than three or four. “Parents run to the emergency room with these cases and they don’t need to do that,” she says. “They can call the poison center and we can help and tell them exactly what to do and we can save them a trip to the emergency room.”
Iowans who went out-of-state and brought home some contraband fireworks need to be careful where they’re stored, as little hands may get a hold of them. “There’s a lot of chemicals in these fireworks, things like potassium and phosphorus and barium and arsenic,” McVoy says. “All of these packages are really bright and they’re attractive to small children. If swallowed, these chemicals in the fireworks can make them sick.”
With concerns about glow sticks and anything else that might be a hazard, call the Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222.