Tainted Candy and Inattentive Drivers — the Real Halloween Scares
There are plenty of real scares to watch out for this Halloween, before, during and after your kid's annual trek to collect as much candy as possible.
Medical experts in the Garden State expect some unique calls and visits, as they typically see, and traffic safety experts warn of unnerving statistics that could make you think twice before sending the kids out on their own for trick-or-treating.
"We try to keep people home. We try not to send them into emergency rooms if we have a choice," said Bruce Ruck, managing director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center.
The 24-hour helpline — 800-222-1222 — handles 140 to 160 calls on a typical day. But the reasons for these calls take a bit of a turn on Oct. 31 and the days surrounding it.
Drawing from past experience, Ruck said the center will likely get calls related to skin irritation caused by face paint and makeup. Medical experts advise residents to purchase these types of items from reputable sources with a recognizable brand. Some of these products, particularly those that are imported or found at bargain stores, have been found to contain lead.
Food-allergy reactions are another concern this time of year — kids, or even parents, may not be fully aware of what makes up every candy bar. One in 13 minors are allergic to foods such as peanuts, wheat, milk, tree nuts or eggs, the center said.
"Some people don't realize that using hand sanitizer, that doesn't remove the nut protein from the hand," Ruck said. "You've got to wash with soap and water to really remove it."
Ruck adds, the age-old warning on Halloween still applies — inspect your children's candy, before they dig in, for any type of tampering. Signs include opened wrappers, wrapping that doesn't match the candy inside, and labels with misspelled words.
Earlier this month, a suspicious bag found in a child's haul from a trunk-or-treat event in Middle Township was confirmed to contain heroin.
While Ruck can't recall any calls to the center connected to marijuana-laced candy on Halloween, he said the threat still exists — not necessarily because homeowners would be giving it out on purpose, but the candy, in the home for someone's personal use, could get lost in the mix of all the other goodies floating around this time of year.
"The packaging is sometimes very similar to regular candy and cookies and stuff like that," Ruck said.
Be seen on Halloween
Children are at least twice as likely to be hit and killed by a car on Halloween than any other day of the year, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that Halloween consistently ranks among the top days for pedestrian injuries and fatalities.
"With an increased risk of pedestrian crashes on Halloween night, AAA Mid-Atlantic urges parents to take the time to make trick-or-treaters and their costumes safer and more visible to motorists," said spokesperson Tracy Noble. "In addition, motorists must eliminate distractions, slow down and watch for children, as well as have a completely sober designated driver if drinking is part of a Halloween celebration."
The drunk-driving threat may be more prevalent in the days following Halloween this year, since the holiday lands on a Thursday.
Nationwide in 2017, a quarter of all pedestrian deaths ranging in age from 5 to 14 occurred in the four days leading up to Halloween, AAA said.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.