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UCSD Medical Center Presents Autumn Tips: Treat Children to a Safe Halloween


October 30, 2007  |  

There’s no trick to treating your kids to a safe Halloween.   The staff at UCSD Medical Center and the California Poison Control System-San Diego Division, located at UCSD Medical Center, offer the following safety precautions for parents to keep Halloween safe.

“The Poison Center does tend to see an upswing in calls around the Halloween season,” said Lee Cantrell, Pharm.D., director of the California Poison Control System-San Diego Division, at UCSD Medical Center, “but with a few reminders and by taking some precautions, parents can stay ahead of most dangers.”

Pumpkin Carving/Jack O’Lanterns

  • Children can have fun drawing a face on a pumpkin and scraping out the contents, but an adult should do the carving.
  • Jack O’Lanterns with candles should be watched carefully and should be placed where they cannot start a fire.


  • Feed children before they go trick-or-treating.  Select a small amount of candy or other food to eat while trick-or-treating so they won’t be tempted to eat from the bag before their treats can be checked.
  • Look carefully at all treats to detect signs of tampering.  Throw away unwrapped candy or treats not in the original wrapper, candy with faded or torn wrappers, and candies that show signs of rewrapping.
  • 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. 
  • Some treats, especially chocolate, can be poisonous to pets.


  • Look for costumes, wigs and masks that are flame resistant and with room enough to allow a child to dress warmly underneath.  Flame resistant does not mean the fabric won't catch fire, only that it will resist burning.
  • Face paints, glues and glitters should be made of non-toxic materials.  Parents should be aware that some children have allergic reactions to these products, such as a rash or itching.  If this occurs, remove the make-up immediately and thoroughly clean the skin with mild soap and water.
  • If a mask is worn, make sure it does not impair the child’s vision or breathing.
  • 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.     

Tips for Trick-or-Treating

  • An adult should accompany young children and Halloween visits should be limited to familiar, local neighbors/neighborhoods.
  • Carry a flashlight after dusk and watch for cars.
  • Make walkways and lawns safe by removing obstacles and leaving outside lights on.
  • Stay away from barking dogs or other upset animals.
  • Choose costumes with light or bright colors, which can be seen by drivers.
  • Use reflective tape on costumes and trick-or-treat bags so that they are highly visible.
  • Halloween also means parties for parents.  Make sure all alcohol and cigarette butts are cleaned up as these items can poison small children.

“The Poison Center recommends that parents carefully check all treats before allowing their trick-or-treaters to taste anything,” said Cantrell.  “This is the best way to prevent poisoning incidents.” 

Parents who find any candy that has been tampered with should report the incident to the Police Department.  If children are experiencing any symptoms following ingestion of food or candy, parents should call the California Poison Control System-San Diego Division at 1-800-222-1222.  The Center is open 24-hours per day, seven days a week.

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Media Contact: Kim Edwards, 619-543-6163,

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