UCSD Health Sciences UCSD Health Sciences
October 13, 1999

Media Contact: Eileen Callahan (619) 543-6163


Halloween is a time when children dressed like goblins and ghouls haunt neighborhoods laughing and calling out "Trick or Treat!"

The staff at the California Poison Control System-San Diego Division, located at UCSD Medical Center, offers this advice for parents to help them keep Halloween safe:

* Insist the child bring back the treat bag for examination before he or she eats any items. Look carefully at all treats to detect signs of tampering. Discard any treats not packaged in the original wrapper. Do not rely solely on having candies x-rayed at a local hospital because x-rays do not detect poisons, glass or plastics.

* Parents with children of different ages should sort the candies to make sure that younger kids don't get hold of small hard candies, peanuts or other objects that may get lodged in a youngster's throat.

* This year, kick the Halloween candy habit by offering pencils, small pads, crayons, stickers, tiny finger puppets, or tissue ghosts wrapped around sugar-free lollipops.

* Halloween costumes need not be expensive. Scare up a costume from a local thrift store or create an outfit from items at home. Look for costumes, wigs and masks which are labeled flame resistant. However, this designation does not mean the fabric won't catch fire, only that it will resist burning.

* Choose costumes with light or bright colors that can be seen by drivers. Reflective tape also can be added to costumes or treat bags so that they are highly visible.

* Cosmetics are preferable to a loose fitting mask. Using a cream lotion as a base coat ensures easy removal. If a mask is worn, make sure the child has full vision.

* Costumes should be short enough to prevent the child from tripping and flat shoes should be worn. Also, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts should be avoided, if possible.

Poison Center staff members stress that careful review of all treats by parents is the best prevention for poisoning incidents. Parents who find any candy that has been tampered with should report the incident to the San Diego Police Department. If children are experiencing any symptoms following ingestion of candy, parents should call the California Poison Control System-San Diego Division at (800) 876-4766. The Center is open 24-hours per day, seven days a week.