Here’s What Parents Should Really Worry About on Halloween

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It could be dangerous for your little Avengers superhero or Disney princess going door to door to beg for candy this Halloween — but probably not for the reasons you might think.

Warning the kids about the perils of Halloween candy that’s been poisoned or otherwise tampered with (for instance, literally spiked with pins or needles or dosed with THC) has become commonplace in recent years. Some parents insist on vetting every Tootsie Roll or nubbin of candy corn before it’s eaten. (Some states love candy so much that they consume almost 30,000 pounds per 100,000 people annually. Here’s a ranking of every state’s Halloween obsession.)

This supposed phenomenon is primarily an urban myth, however, according to those who have studied it. 

The real dangers come from cars, glow sticks, and dry ice.

Children are more than twice as likely to be struck by a car and killed on October 31st than on any other day, according to the National Capital Poison Center. Besides the obvious measure of having an adult accompany little trick-or-treaters, the organization recommends adding reflective tape to costumes, making sure the costumes fit well (to avoid tripping or snagging), using face paint instead of potentially vision-obscuring masks, and giving the kids flashlights or glow sticks to help light their way. (Though any vehicle can kill, these are the deadliest cars in history.)

Those glow sticks themselves can be a hazard, though. Youngsters sometimes chew on them, which can release an irritant called dibutyl phthalate. If it comes into contact with the skin or gets into the mouth, it should be rinsed off or out immediately, and poison control should be called if there’s anything more than minor irritation. And if the liquid gets into the eyes, flush them as quickly as possible with room temperature water. “Every second matters,” warns the poison control site. “A delay could result in loss of sight.”

One other thing to be wary of is dry ice, used to produce those scary smoky effects. It should never be used in drinks or otherwise consumed, and should only be stored or transported with good ventilation.