State poison control center ready to answer Halloween questions

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With trick-or-treating or “beggar’s nights” in most Iowa communities over the next few evenings, the Iowa Poison Control Center is prepared for a host of Halloween-related calls.

Registered nurse Jean Hammack says they hear from worried parents every year with concerns about their kids’ loot. “We sometimes get calls based on candy or even fruit,” Hammack says. “Parents may look at it and see it looks unusual. It’s just always better if you follow the phrase, ‘If in doubt, throw it out.’”

Hammack says an adult should always accompany young children while trick-or-treating and limit visits to local neighborhoods. She reminds parents to check over all treats before letting a child dig into their goodie bag. “Sometimes chocolate will have an unusual color if it’s an older form of candy,” she says. “Often, those are still safe but always be watchful and always be mindful of the children’s candy when they come back. Dump it out and go through it with them.”

Before heading out, make sure the child’s costume fits properly to prevent trips and falls. Use make-up instead of masks, if possible, and remove it as soon as you get home to prevent skin irritation. Accompanying parents should carry a flashlight, though some kids prefer to carry spookier-looking yellow-green glow sticks. Just don’t let younger kids have glow sticks or they may chew on them, releasing chemicals into their mouths.

“With those glowsticks, we do get calls on those,” Hammack say. “Often, we can manage those at home but we encourage people to call us at 1-800-222-1222.” She says a quick call can save you an expensive trip to the emergency room. The Sioux City-based hotline is staffed around the clock.