Glow sticks are a popular purchase this time of year. From Halloween to the Holidays, birthday parties to the 4th of July, they are cheap, fun and often provide a lot of bang for the buck.
But, as a fellow NewsMom recently discovered, they dont come without their dangers—especially for young kids. The reporter asked to remain anonymous but allowed us to share her warning with parents.
Yesterday, I went to our local dollar store and bought two glow sticks. They came in a Marvel bag. One was Spiderman and the other was Avengers. They have dozens and dozens of these glow sticks for different occasions.
My daughter is three and was playing around with a glow stick. As she was laying in her bed with the glow stick, it exploded on her face and in her eye. I spent 15 minutes washing her eye out as she screamed in pain. I then called poison control and the dispatcher told me to take her to the emergency room if the redness didn’t go away in an hour. Luckily, it did and she was okay.
I researched the glow sticks online. I was surprised to see that a lot of people were writing about them breaking or exploding and that the ingredient inside burns tremendously. The ingredient, however, is not toxic.
I was going to get these little fun glow sticks as favors for my daughter’s birthday party, but now I will not.
There were definitely warnings on the label for the toy I bought for my child, but it doesn’t make what happened any less scary.
And she’s not alone. From the Denver Post to North Carolina’s WSOCTV exploding glow stick warnings have been in the news for years. However, the more common calls to poison control involve kids who chewed on the sticks and swallowed the chemicals inside.
The good news, as our NewsMom alluded to, it probably won’t poison your child. According to poison control centers, which get hundreds of glow stick related calls a year, the toys often contain a hydrogen peroxide alcohol solution or a chemical called dibutyl phthalate. The Carolina’s Poison Center describes it as “a clear, oily, colorless liquid” that is “low in toxicity.”
However, while not deadly, getting the chemical on your skin or in your eye can be very painful. It “can cause irritation to any part of the body that it comes into contact with, including the eyes, skin and mouth,” according to the Poison Center and a North Carolina mom reported that an exploding glow stick gave her a chemical burn in her eye.
Remind children not to chew on or break open glow sticks or any other glow-in-the-dark products. While the liquid is considered minimally toxic in small amounts, it can cause skin irritation. Swallowing glow stick liquid can cause nausea and burning. Eyes are especially sensitive to glow stick liquid. Never put these products in the microwave.
Yea, apparently there was rumor that microwaving glow sticks would make them brighter. As you might imagine, it did’t turn out well for those who tried it.
Bottom line, be careful with glow sticks around kids, especially cheap ones. However, you dont have to panic if/when they leak or explode.
After any concerning chemical exposure, you should immediately call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 and/or your doctor.
When it comes to glow sticks, this is what the Poison Center recommends.
- Don’t be alarmed if lips and tongue glow for a few minutes.
- Wipe the mouth with a clean wet washcloth; go over the tongue and around the gum line.
- Give the child up to one-half cup (4 ounces) of water.
For Eye Exposure:
- Irrigate exposed eye(s) with a generous amount of room temperature water for at least 10 minutes.
- Call the Carolinas Poison Center for ongoing irritation, swelling, pain or sensitivity to light.
For Skin Exposure:
- Remove any clothing that is wet with the liquid.
- Wash exposed areas of skin well with soap and water.