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Halloween Safety: Tips to Navigate the Scariest Night of the Year


    • Before Halloween, test out face paint/makeup by doing a patch test.
    • Do not handle dry ice without the proper precautions.
    • Inspect all sweet treats before allowing children to eat them.
    • Program the Poison Help number into your phone for immediate assistance: 1-800-222-1222


Halloween is quickly approaching along with costume parties, carving pumpkins, bonfires, telling scary tales, and trick-or-treating. The Missouri Poison Center is ready to answer all of your questions about Halloween related substances such as candy, glow sticks, and special cosmetics. Don’t let this ghoulish time turn spooky with an unexpected poisoning. Follow these simple precautions to keep your little ghosts and goblins safe!

Glow Sticks

Glow sticks are a fun and colorful way to keep your children visible on Halloween. These soft plastic tubes often break open when chewed on by children and can release the colorful liquid inside. The ingredients are considered relatively nontoxic, and the small amount of fluid in each tube adds to its safety. Glow sticks contain dibutyl phthalate, which can cause a stinging and burning sensation if splashed in the eye and can be irritating to the skin or mouth.

If a glow stick breaks open while your child is playing with it, do not panic. Follow these steps:

  • Take it away from your child, wipe off any visible product from their hands, and then wash the exposed skin with soap and water.
  • If your child has some of the liquid in their mouth, wipe it out with a wet washcloth and give them a drink of water. The stinging or burning sensation should resolve quickly, but a small snack such as a popsicle, ice cream, or yogurt can also help.
  • Don’t be surprised if the exposed area continues to glow for a few minutes; it will fade with time.
  • If the glow liquid gets into the eye, rinse them out as soon as possible. Call the Missouri Poison Center immediately for help on how to rinse the eyes at 1-800-222-1222.

Dry Ice

There is nothing spookier than a bubbling cauldron or hazy fog made from dry ice, but remember dry ice can be dangerous if improperly handled due to its extremely cold temperature (up to -110 degrees Celsius). It can cause “chilling” consequences such as frostbite injuries. Take these safety precautions when handling dry ice:

  • Dry ice should be used under adult supervision.
  • Do not handle dry ice with your bare hands; it is best to use metal tongs or an oven mitt.
  • Use dry ice only in a well-ventilated area.
  • Store dry ice in a container that has a loose lid that is not fully airtight because dangerous carbon dioxide gas buildup can occur if it is too tightly sealed.
  • Do not use dry ice in place of ice cubes in a drink or punch that will be consumed. Frostbite injuries to the mouth and throat have occurred from this type of exposure.
  • Do not dispose of unused dry ice in a sink or toilet because it may damage the structure due to extreme temperature differences. 


Face paint and makeup are a good alternative instead of masks that can cause obstructed sight. Many face paints or Halloween makeup kits are considered non-toxic but it is best to look for labels with the additional phrase “safety-tested.” Some children can develop skin sensitivities and allergies to many of these cosmetics, so it is best to test the product for allergies before Halloween night.

Skin Patch Testing:

  • Apply a small amount of the makeup product to the inner arm. This is a good testing place because the skin is fairly sensitive and thin.
    • If the product burns or causes immediate irritation, wash it off well with soap and water and do not use.
    • If no reaction occurs after 30-60 minutes, the product can be used according to package directions. Keep in mind that reactions can change over time and may need to be re-evaluated based on future reactions.

Candy and Treats

Trick-or-treat! Nearly 598 million pounds of candy are sold each Halloween season! With so much candy being passed around, keep in mind these helpful tips: 

  • Instruct children not to open their candy until they return home. You can avoid a sugar meltdown by bringing along some pre-inspected candy from home for them to snack on.
  • Once home, inspect all candy for any signs of tampering (tears, pinholes, discoloration, etc.) before allowing children to eat.
  • Eat only factory wrapped candy and stay away from homemade treats or poorly wrapped items.
  • Avoid choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, or small toys for young children.
  • Always follow this important safety tip: Before you eat, inspect your treat!

For any questions or concerns about these or other Halloween poisons, call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. Specially trained nurses and pharmacists are available 24/7/365 to answer your questions. The service is free and confidential.

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