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COVID-19 poses new safety risks for Halloween night

Trick or Treat sign

FOR RELEASE: October 26, 2020

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – It’s almost time to celebrate Halloween! Unfortunately, COVID-19 poses challenging and new safety risks for both trick-or-treaters AND those handing out the treats this year. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated he would not ban trick-or-treaters going door to door this year. If you choose to venture out or hand out candy on Halloween night, the Upstate New York Poison Center encourages you to be prepared and watch out for potential poisonings:

  1. The New York State Department of Health encourages trick-or-treaters to not take candy from a bowl or directly from someone’s hands this year. One option from the CDC is to set up a station with individually bagged treats for kids to take. If you choose this option, remember to clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and any shared items between use.
  • POISON SAFETY: Read ALL labels on cleaning products. Cleaning products are not meant to be ingested or spray on skin.

  • RISK: Disregarding directions on any cleaning product can have consequences. Some products are flammable, can cause breathing difficulties, skin or eye irritation, or even trigger asthma.

  1. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often when handing out treats or collecting candy.
  • POISON SAFETY: Hand sanitizers should be kept out of reach of children and used only with adult supervision. When using hand sanitizer, apply a dime-sized amount to dry hands and rub hands together until completely dry. Hand sanitizer contains alcohol and should never be swallowed.

  • RISK: A small amount of hand sanitizer can cause alcohol poisoning in children. This can cause mental confusion, vomiting and drowsiness. In severe cases, low blood sugar, respiratory arrest and even death can occur. Some hand sanitizers are contaminated with methanol which even in small ingested doses can result in blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death.

  1. Only give or take packaged/wrapped candy and inspect it before it is eaten.
  • POISON SAFETY: Look for an unusual appearance, discoloration, tiny holes or tears in the wrappers. When in doubt, throw it out.

  • RISK: Tampering with candy is rare, but if you have a question, call us: 1-800-222-1222.

  1. Check the label on all Halloween makeup.
  • POISON SAFETY: Do not use old or expired makeup, especially if from last Halloween. Pay attention to any odors coming from the makeup.

  • RISK: Most makeup is considered non-toxic, but may cause irritation or an allergic reaction to a child’s skin. Some products contain lead. If irritation or a rash occurs, wash the area well with soap and water and seek medical attention as needed.

  1. Make sure flashing jewelry with batteries used for costumes are not exposed.
  • POISON SAFETY: This jewelry can contain tiny disc batteries. Make sure the battery compartment is secured shut. Use strong tape if necessary. Only buy jewelry that requires a screwdriver or tool to open the battery compartment. Don't insert or change batteries in front of children, they may see it as a toy.

  • RISK: If swallowed, call 911 and go to an emergency room immediately. Larger button batteries can burn a hole in a child's esophagus.

  1. Be careful with glow sticks.
  • POISON SAFETY: While generally non-toxic, it is best to not chew or break open a glow stick.

  • RISK: The exposed liquid may cause stinging or a burning sensation. Occasionally blisters can occur. Remember to wash out the mouth or eye with water for 15 minutes immediately after exposure. Most exposures do not result in significant injury.

In the case of a poisoning or for information purposes, call the Upstate New York Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. We are open 24/7, 365 days a year. Each year our center manages more than 50,000 calls from health care providers, 911 operators, hospitals, industry, schools, and the general public in our 54-county service area.

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About Upstate New York Poison Center

Housed inside Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY, the Upstate New York Poison Center is dedicated to reducing the number, cost and severity of poisonings within its designated 54-county service area as mandated by New York State Law. The Center is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to both health professionals and the general public at 1-800-222-1222.

About Upstate Medical University

SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY, is the only academic medical center in Central New York. It is also the region's largest employer with 9,460 employees. Affiliated with the State University of New York, Upstate's mission is to improve the health of the community through education, biomedical research and health care.

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