Glow Stick Concerns Increase Poison Center Calls during Halloween Season


The Nebraska Regional Poison Center says calls about glow sticks pour in during the Halloween season, and they've already received hundreds of calls about the popular toy this year.

Experts recommend children wear reflective tape or a glow stick on Halloween night to increase their visibility on the dark, spooky streets, but parents need to make sure their little ones are using them properly.

"The glow sticks are helpful, as long as they're used in the correct way," Good Samaritan Hospital Trauma Nurse Coordinator Renae Jacobson said.

So far this year, calls to the poison center from panicked parents whose kids have gotten into the neon-colored goop inside have climbed to almost 400.

"This time of year is the time of year that we get a lot of calls on glow sticks," Joan McVoy of the Nebraska Regional Poison Center, said. "Every year it just seems we get more and more, and the phones are already ringing this morning with kids getting into these glow sticks."

McVoy says the number one reason for those calls is children swallowing the glowing liquid.

"They're soft and pliable, and kids like to put them in their mouths, and what they don't realize is that when they chew on it, they break open really easily," she said. "It's got a chemical in there called dibutyl phthalate, and when kids get it in their mouth, parents are panicking because their child's mouth is glowing."

But she says there's no cause for alarm -- the liquid in those glow sticks actually isn't toxic.

"They do not need to run into an emergency room," McVoy said. "It's mainly just irritating more than anything else...It shouldn't cause a burn, but it is going to cause a burning sensation, and so the child may cry or be complaining that their mouth's bothering them."

"It is an irritant and we all have different allergies, we all have different skin types," Jacobson said, "So it is going to depend, individual to individual how we react to it."

Experts say it's ok for kids to use glow sticks, but parents should be careful about giving them to children under five.

"It's great to use these products, and they're fine, but if you've got a small child that tends to put things in their mouths, you just want to think twice about it," McVoy said.

The poison center suggests that parents whose kids break open a glow stick and get the liquid in their eyes, mouth, or on their skin, should call the center immediately at 1-800-222-1222, so a medical expert can tell them exactly how to ease their child's discomfort.