Oregon Poison Center and OHSU Urge Halloween Caution

10/28/99    Portland, Ore.

Along with young goblins, there are some real dangers lurking in the shadows this Halloween season. The Oregon Poison Center takes dozens of calls every year from parents who fear their children have eaten tainted candy or mistaken pills for treats. "Just because your child doesn't show symptoms right away doesn't mean they won't," says Tonya Drayden, R.N., education coordinator for the Oregon Poison Center. "If you suspect they've eaten anything they shouldn't, don't hesitate to call."

The Poison Center offers these tips for a safe Halloween:

  • Eat only those treats in their original, unopened wrappers. Throw away candy if wrappers are faded, have holes or tears, or signs of rewrapping.
  • Thoroughly check fruits and homemade treats for foreign objects that may have been inserted or injected such as pins, metal needles or razor blades. Fruits can be cut into several sections to check for tampering.
  • Feed your children before they go trick or treating, or offer them some candy beforehand so they won't be tempted to eat their treats before they're checked out.
  • Watch for skin irritation from makeup and face paint. If you notice itching or a rash, wash off the irritating substance right away. Some glow-in-the dark makeup and jewelry can be very irritating to the skin and eyes.

Some more general tips for Halloween safety from OHSU:

  • Wear brightly colored costumes made of flame-retardant materials. Use reflective tape on trick-or-treat bags.
  • Carry a flashlight after dusk and watch for cars. Try to finish before dark.
  • Keep candle-lit jack o'lanterns off of doorsteps to avoid contact with childrens' costumes.
  • Stay away from barking dogs or other upset animals.

If you suspect your child has been poisoned, call the Oregon Poison Center at OHSU. In Portland, the number is 494-8968. Outside Portland call toll-free, 1-800-452-7165.