A nurse from the Iowa Poison Control Center says Iowans planning to use dry ice for special effects around Halloween should use proper precautions.
“People like to use to use dry ice at Halloween time because I feel like it adds to the atmosphere of the spookiness,” says Tammy Noble, a nurse who is the education coordinator for the Iowa Poison Control Center.
Noble says dry ice is far colder than normal ice and can cause frostbite if it touches bare skin. “Make sure you wear gloves,” she says, “and then also make sure you’re using it in an area with good ventilation to avoid the carbon dioxide that’s being released from building up any place.”
And Noble says dry ice should never be used in a beverage.
“Swallowing the dry ice is extremely dangerous due to the issues with frostbite like inside your throat and your esophagus,” Noble says, “so that’s very, very dangerous if somebody would accidentally swallow that.”
Noble says parents need to keep track of the small, button-sized or coin-sized batteries that may be used to illuminate or animate children’s Halloween costumes.
“You want to make sure that kids aren’t getting that compartment open and accidentally swallowing those batteries because those batteries could get stuck in the esophagus,” Noble says, “…If that does get stuck in the esophagus, a burn can happen as that battery is still able to conduct that electrical current and that burn can happen within even a couple of hours, as short as two hours.”
One of the most common calls to the Iowa Poison Control Center centers around glow sticks used to make kids more visible in the dark. The sticks sometimes get punctured as they’re snapped to activate the glow or kids bite into the sticks. The ingredients in glow sticks are generally non-toxic and, while there can be a burning sensation, most cases will not require medical attention. Noble encourages parents to call the Iowa Poison Control Center, though, if they need guidance, particularly if the liquid is swallowed. It can cause irritation inside the mouth and an upset stomach. The Iowa Poison Control Hotline is answered 24 hours a day. The number is 1-800-222-1222.
(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)