SATURDAY, Oct. 26, 2019 — Allergies and asthma can turn Halloween into fright night, so parents must be vigilant.
Some fun-sized candy bars have no labels to alert about possible food allergens, such as peanuts, said Dr. Todd Mahr, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
But food allergens aren’t the only potential concerns.
“Halloween happens in the fall, so trick or treating involves being aware of fall allergies,” Mahr said in a college news release.
Ragweed and other types of pollen can trigger fall allergies. Keep pollen out of your house by leaving shoes at the door, and having children shower, wash hair and change clothes after they’ve been outdoors. Kids who take allergy meds should continue their medications for two weeks after the first frost, Mahr advised.
A sudden change in weather can trigger an asthma attack. If it’s cold on Halloween, consider an extra layer under or over the costume for children with asthma.
Dry, windy weather is bad for people with allergies, because the wind spreads pollen and mold. Monitor pollen forecasts to see if there will be high levels of pollen in the air on Halloween. If so, consider taking allergy medications.
Be cautious about haunted houses if your child has asthma. Fear and other intense emotions can disrupt normal breathing patterns, which can trigger asthma.
Many haunted houses also have smoke machines, and smoke of any kind is dangerous for those with asthma. If you do go to a haunted house, bring inhalers, Mahr recommended.
Better yet, instead of going to a haunted house, consider hosting your own Halloween party.
WEDNESDAY, Oct. 23, 2019 (American Heart Association News) — Spooky, scream-inducing characters whose health has clearly taken a turn for the worse – skeletons and ghosts, for example – are as much a part of Halloween fun as pumpkins and candy.
But once the creepy decorations are put away, some frightening health facts can haunt us year-round – and should prompt us to take action.
“There’s been a lot of thought about how you motivate people to change,” said Mercedes Carnethon, a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “Sometimes scare tactics do work, like the anti-tobacco ads that showed the person smoking through a hole in her neck.”
Dr. Tyler Cooper, president and CEO of Cooper Aerobics, a comprehensive health and wellness center in Dallas, said no single strategy works for everyone.
“Everybody has a different motivator,” said Cooper, a preventive medicine physician. “If that’s fear, OK. But some people have this belief that if something hasn’t happened to them yet, it’s not going to happen. The best thing we can do is present the information about what they can expect if they continue down the path they’re on.”
If you’re not scared yet, here are some terrifying health statistics:
Most Americans spend more time in the kitchen than in the gym.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculated in 2018 that just 23.2% of U.S. adults meet the federal recommendations for weekly exercise: at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as a brisk walk) or at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity (such as running), and two sessions of muscle-strengthening activity. That figure was down slightly from the year before.
By comparison, a 2018 survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found people spend an average of more than four hours per week cooking and cleaning up the kitchen.
“People think that it requires some type of herculean effort to improve their health and that’s not true,” Cooper said. “If you’re not doing anything, start something. Just go for a walk around the block.”
Vaping among teenagers has soared.
In 2011, only 1.5% of high school students had used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey. The figure in 2018 was 20.8%.
That increase, the CDC warned in a report earlier this year, “has erased recent progress in reducing overall tobacco product use among youths.”
E-cigarettes, which typically contain addictive nicotine, may damage blood vessels, raise blood pressure and increase the risk of clots. Beyond that, the CDC is investigating a nationwide outbreak of lung injuries linked to vaping that has resulted in a growing number of deaths.
Because the vaping phenomenon is still new, Carnethon said, “We don’t even know the effects on long-term cardiovascular health.”
Fewer than half of people who have a cardiac arrest outside a hospital get bystander CPR.
Immediate CPR can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival, according to the American Heart Association.
That means when someone suffers a cardiac arrest, bystanders are crucial until trained lifesavers arrive. Whether the reason is lack of CPR training or a reluctance to get involved, experts say doing something is always better than doing nothing.
There are 9.4 million American adults with diabetes who don’t know they have it.
Diabetes left untreated can lead to damage in nearly every organ in the body, with complications ranging from heart problems and strokes to vision loss, nerve damage and even amputation.
“If you don’t know you have it, you can’t treat it,” Carnethon said.
More than 14 million U.S. households are food insecure.
The term refers to people who can’t afford enough food for themselves or their families, or who may not have access to healthy foods to ensure a proper diet. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 14.3 million households were food insecure at some point during 2018, representing 11.1% of the nation’s households.
Even if people are not personally affected, Carnethon said, the national problem should alarm all of us.
“Social determinants like food insecurity contribute to health outcomes,” she said. “These are issues that as a society we can promote policy changes to improve the health of everyone.”
At Halloween and throughout the year, Cooper said, the message is the same: “Take charge of your own health. If you do your best to make even some minor changes, you’ll see the benefits.”
And if the facts and figures don’t scare you, Carnethon said, think about people.
“It seems data doesn’t motivate people, but personal stories and personal connections do,” she said. “We need to put a personal face on good health and make it as relatable as possible.”
So have a happy, healthy Halloween, she said. “And go easy on the candy.”
SATURDAY, Oct. 19, 2019 — There’s no trick to keeping kids safe this Halloween — it just takes some planning, the American Academy of Pediatrics says.
Costumes should be bright, reflective and short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame. It’s a good idea to add reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.
Masks can limit or block eyesight, so consider nontoxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly so they don’t slide over eyes. Test makeup ahead of time on a small patch of skin to make sure it doesn’t cause any problems.
Review with children how to call 911 (or their local emergency number) if they have an emergency or get lost.
When trick-or-treating, a parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children and everyone should have flashlights with fresh batteries. Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.
If older children are going alone, work together to plan a route that’s acceptable to you and agree on a specific time when they should return home.
Trick-or-treaters should stay in a group and communicate where they are going; carry a cellphone; stay on well-lit streets and only cross as a group in established crosswalks, never between parked cars or out of driveways.
If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
To make your home safe, remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations. Check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs; sweep wet leaves or snow from sidewalks and steps; and make sure pets are restrained to prevent them from jumping on or biting trick-or-treaters or running away.
Halloween is a spooky fun time of year, filled with fun events, themed parties, and CANDY. But the fog machine doesn’t have to be the only thing clouding up your living room this season. Cannabis, when used responsibly, can be the perfect addition to this year’s festivities.
This guide, brought to you by Hemper and their Halloween Inspired Smoking Box, will help you get your creative juices flowing with ideas for incorporating cannabis into All Hallows Eve.
1. Host A Costume Party
The best parties are always those that have an underlying theme for guests to follow. Whether it’s a black and white required theme, a masquerade, or even a get together inspired by Disney, themed parties are extra fun when it comes to showing off your creativity.
So this Halloween, why not try hosting a costume party? But not just any costume party… a cannabis inspired themed party! Tell your friends to come dressed as anything or anyone that involves cannabis, and see what kind of cool ideas stop by! Whether they show up as Snoop Dog or a giant pumpkin bong, a cannabis inspired costume party will be the highlight of your year!
Alternatively, you could host a non-cannabis inspired party and simply incorporate cannabis into the festivities. For example, make “Trick or Treats” such as cookies or brownies, with a twist.
Label them as “Trick” (weed-infused), or Treat (regular non-cannabis treat for non-users and designated drivers).
2. Movie Night
Halloween is a great night for a movie marathon! From comedic Halloween themed movies to traditional slasher films. Especially if you’re not typically a fan of scary movies, cannabis can ease fears and let you enjoy movies that you wouldn’t typically have the guts to watch.
Mellow out this season and toke up with your favorite strains guaranteed to help you enjoy, responsibly from the comfort of your own home…just don’t forget the snacks. Want to spice things up even more? Consider checking out Hemper’s October Hemper Box, filled with Halloween themed smoking tools and accessories, including a “Jack the Ripper Bong”!
3. Cannabis Arts And Crafts Night
It’s always more fun to smoke out of something that you made yourself. Well, maybe not always, but Halloween is the perfect time to challenge your creative skills and see who can make the best DIY bong or pipe!
Not into making a bong? Take this opportunity to make decorations for the season to hang up around the house or outdoors. From plastic milk carton skeletons to scary props, you’ll find countless “how to” videos online…just don’t use sharp tools or powered devices when high ok? Remember, fake blood is fun and creepy, real blood is downright scary. The last thing you want is to spend the night in the Emergency Room. Enjoy responsibly.
4. Halloween Game Night
Who doesn’t like a good game night? Many of us grew up playing games with friends and siblings, only to have graduated to drinking games in college and beyond.
But what about cannabis games?
Think of it as drinking games, but with a twist. Replace the shots of alcohol with hits of your favorite herb, and challenge your friends to a game of Never Have I Ever, Poker, Weed Jenga, Rock Band, or even an old school game like Pin The Tail On The Donkey! Cannabis will make any Halloween game into a burst of giggles and fun.
Just remember, moderation is still key and advised. So plan accordingly and make sure participants are staying within limits they are comfortable.
5. Cannabis Dice
Speaking of games, why not try a game of cannabis dice? The best part is, you don’t need to use any special kind of dice! Although, the more sides it has, the more fun the game will be. Split a piece of paper into 2 columns.
In the left column, make a numbered list of spooky dares, and in the right column, make a list of things you have to do while performing the dare. For example, scare a friend in the tune of a song. The loser has to take a hit until the winner says stop!
6. Nature’s Candy Cooking
If you like to bake, why not have a nature’s candy Halloween themed party? You can either invite your friends for a giant cannabis cook-off, or simply tell them to bring their own Halloween cannabis infused desserts, and see which one you like best!
Consider setting up blind taste tests, voting, and awards for the most unique, best tasting, best decorated, and other categories. The only limit is your creativity.
7. Carve A Cannabis Pumpkin
Step up your pumpkin carving skills and make your own pumpkin dab rig! Choose a nice, round pumpkin, and start by carving it out like you normally would do when carving a pumpkin. Next, scoop out the seeds, push the pumpkin stem through 2 opposite sides of the pumpkin, pour in some water, and kick off your Halloween with a pumpkin dab!
The best part about carving a cannabis pumpkin is that your October Hemper Box comes with all the things you need to complete your pumpkin rig! You can also check out their head shop to find many more smoking accessories.
Smoke Up this Halloween and Enjoy
We hope you enjoyed this Halloween guide on how to incorporate cannabis responsibly into your holiday festivities. Don’t be shy about sharing any ideas you have with us, we’d love to hear what you have in mind.
Shane Dwyer is a cannabis advocate who isn’t afraid to tell the world about it! You can find his views, rants, and tips published regularly at The 420 Times.
Jerry Garcia’s favorite movie was “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein,” a 1948 comedy/horror mashup that he says gave him “a general fascination with the bizarre” that would fuel his music career. “There are things in this world that are really weird. I don’t think I knew that before I saw that movie, that there are […] Marijuana
Oct. 30, 2018 — At Halloween, a sweet treat for children can play a dangerous trick on an unsuspecting pet’s digestive system.
Scott Fowler, doctor of veterinary medicine for Atlanta’s Briarcliff Animal Clinic, has often seen multiple owners lined up with sick dogs who’ve gotten into unsecured Halloween candy, particularly chocolate.
“I’ve seen a ton of chocolate here this time of year, for sure. Adults give children candy, and they leave it out where dogs can find it,” Fowler says. “You get a line of people outside [the waiting room], with four to five dogs sitting there, potentially puking things up. And then you have to collect the puke and see what they had.”
But How Much Chocolate?
Chocolate is one of the most commonly ingested pet dangers, accounting for 7% of all cases reported to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
Fowler finds that a small or “fun-sized” amount of chocolate usually isn’t a cause for alarm. “We have a formula that compares the weight of the dog with the amount of what he ate,” he says. “Most candy bars have a decently low amount of chocolate. If a Labrador ate a mini-Snickers, it won’t do much. If a papillon or a chihuahua did, I’d be more concerned.”
Often the kind of chocolate can be as concerning as the quantity. “Darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate or white chocolate because it has higher levels of methylxanthines,” says Morieka Johnson, writer and host of the pet care blog and podcast “SoulPup: Tips & Tricks for Dog Lovers.”
A cause for worry with chocolate are mild stimulants known as methylxanthines, including theobromine and caffeine. They’re in coffee and cocoa beans as well as some medications. “Side effects [in dogs] include vomiting and diarrhea, excessive thirst, abnormal heart rhythm, seizures and [in extreme cases] even death,” Johnson says.
It’s Not Just Halloween
Halloween isn’t the only holiday when dogs can get into food that’s dangerous for them. Edible presents may be left under Christmas trees, loved ones can exchange chocolates at Valentine’s Day and Easter egg hunts often involve candy at a dog’s eye-level, with dire potential results.
“Candy and human snacks can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and in some circumstances pancreatitis, a serious illness which may require hospitalization,” says Leni Kaplan, veterinarian and clinician with the Community Service Practice at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals in Ithaca, NY.
Paula Emde of Atlanta dealt with the consequences of a dog eating candy many years ago when Boutros, her German shepherd mix, got into three boxes of foil-wrapped, brandy-filled dark chocolates recently brought from Germany.
“We went out for the evening and left three 24-packs on the hutch, and when we got back, all of them were gone, with shreds of paper and foil on the floor,” Emde says.
She immediately called her vet, who advised her to induce vomiting by giving Boutros a spoonful of hydrogen peroxide and then monitoring him closely.
Chocolate isn’t the only kind of candy that can be harmful to pets. “Sugar-free gum can have xylitol, an artificial sweetener. It can cause low blood sugar. The body can’t recognize it, so pumps out more insulin to get rid of it,” Fowler says.
Grapes and raisins, while considered healthy snack alternatives for humans, can be problematic for dogs. “They can cause significant kidney and red blood cell damage in dogs,” Fowler says.
Veterinarians from the Veterinary Emergency & Referral Group (VERG), a 24-hour specialty and emergency veterinary hospital group based in Brooklyn, NY, recommend pet owners keep candy in a confined, elevated location like a pantry.
Kaplan suggests that any food items that create pet dangers be kept in secure locations. “Restrict access to chocolate, coffee, caffeine, macadamia nuts, grapes, raisins and any food containing xylitol or psychoactive cannabinoids such as marijuana,” Kaplan says. “Pets must also be kept away from any beverages containing alcohol.”
One Lucky Pooch
In the case of Boutros, the vets considered the brandy a greater risk than the dark chocolate, even after inducing vomiting. “They were concerned that it would be a double whammy and told me that if he showed signs of being drunk, to take him to the emergency vet,” Emde says. “And after about an hour, Boutros started acting like he was drunk – he was staggering, his eyes were glassy and he was reeking of alcohol.”
Emde took Boutros to a veterinary emergency room, where he was given activated charcoal to absorb toxic substances in his belly and decrease absorption into his bloodstream. While vets often use a funnel to get the activated charcoal into a dog’s system, in this case Boutros’ indiscriminate eating habits were an advantage, as he gobbled it up mixed with canned dog food, much to the vet techs’ surprise.
Afterwards, Boutros was fine and his eating habits undeterred.
Fowler points out that the local vet isn’t your only potential resource. “For people whose animals have ingested something, the ASPCA has a pet poison hot line with toxicologists on call. [The owners] can ask them ‘Here’s the amount they ate, is this a major concern?’ and they will say ‘You’re likely looking at this potential situation, here’s the treatment we recommend.’” The number is (888) 426-4435.
Real Foods to Watch Out For
Fowler points out that items considered traditional table scraps for pets can be harmful, even if they don’t contain toxins. “At Thanksgiving, they get scrap food from the table. Things high in fat, like the uneaten bits of ham or steak, can cause upset stomach or pancreatitis, which can be severe enough that they have to be hospitalized.”
Even chewing can lead to problems that result in high vet bills. “Bones, like the center bone of ham, can fracture their teeth,” says Fowler. “Labradors come in who have been chewing on antlers and rawhides for years and can get fractures in their teeth. My rule of thumb is, if you hit something against your knee and it hurts, it’s too hard to give to a dog.”
Some dogs even gnaw on jack-o’-lanterns or uncarved pumpkins. “Pumpkin is safe for pets to eat as long as it is not moldy,” Kaplan says. If your pet eats moldy pumpkin, contact a veterinarian immediately. Pumpkin rinds are safe to chew on as long as the pet is being supervised and does not actually eat the rinds. If a pet swallows rind, Kaplan says, it could become lodged in the gastrointestinal tract which will require veterinary medical attention and surgery.
Cat owners seldom have to deal with their pets eating toxic foodstuffs, but that doesn’t mean they have no risk of emergency vet visits at the holidays. “It’s more likely that they’ll swallow foreign bodies like string, toys or tinsel from Christmas trees,” Fowler says.
Trick or THC-treat? Halloween is right around the corner, a time of year that invokes fear in parents and children alike. All across the United States, as kids slash their way through neighborhoods disguised as Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers collecting treats, parents sit at home in terror, afraid some menacing evildoers will dose their […] Marijuana
SATURDAY, Oct. 27, 2018 — Colorful or unusual-looking contact lenses are popular at Halloween, but they could harm your eyes, vision experts warn.
“Decorative contact lenses may seem like a fun costume accessory, but if you’re not careful, they can cause serious eye and vision problems,” said Samuel Pierce, president of the American Optometric Association (AOA).
“Many people mistakenly believe they don’t need a prescription for decorative contact lenses. It’s extremely important that anyone desiring to wear contact lenses for any reason get an eye exam from a doctor of optometry and only wear contact lenses, with or without vision correction, that have been properly fitted,” Pierce said.
There is growing concern about sales of illegal decorative contact lenses online and at locations such as costume shops and gas stations.
A recent AOA survey found that 26 percent of Americans who have worn decorative contact lenses bought them without a prescription from a source other than an eye doctor.
Illegally purchased contact lenses can cause bacterial infections, allergic reactions and even permanent vision loss.
To combat this problem, the AOA is conducting its annual “31 in 31” campaign, in which it sends letters to 31 online and other sellers who have been reported to the AOA as conducting illegal contact lens sales.
“Unfortunately, far too many companies are breaking the rules … to make sales and profits,” Pierce said in an AOA news release.
“Through our ’31 in 31′ campaign, we strongly urge these companies to reverse their policies of illegally distributing contact lenses without valid prescriptions in violation of federal law,” he added. “These sales potentially put patients at risk for sight-threatening complications. It’s a matter of public safety.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on contact lenses.
Oct. 22, 2018 — Last year was the first year that Mia was old enough to really celebrate Halloween, and the little girl was so excited about it. The 2-year-old dressed up as Poppy from the movie Trolls — in a blue satin dress and a large multicolored headband, complete with a shock of pink hair — and headed out with her parents and brother to go trick-or-treating.
But the night took a terrifying turn for the Illinois family once they got home and learned the hard way just how quickly and easily allergic reactions can happen on Halloween.
“One minute we were sorting out her loot in the living room, and the next minute we were in the back of an ambulance after Mia bit into cross-contaminated candy,” Erica Giuliani explains.
The family had known their little girl was allergic to peanuts because she’d gotten hives from them before. So they had avoided all candy being handed out that night with peanuts. But they didn’t realize tree nuts were a problem for Mia and had never seen her have an anaphylactic reaction until she tried a plain mini-chocolate candy bar that evening that happened to be made on equipment that handles almonds.
“She took one bite and instantly spit it out and said, ‘I don’t like it,’ Giuliani says. “Within a minute, her face and lips started swelling, she got upset and started really crying, and we knew something terrible had happened.”
The parents used Mia’s epinephrine injector and called 911, and within minutes their little girl — still dressed in part of her Poppy costume — was in an ambulance headed to the ER. She was given steroids and monitored for hours.
It was so frightening for the family that her 5-year-old brother declined an offer to keep trick-or-treating and came to the hospital to sit at his sister’s bedside and make sure she was OK.
“The entire experience was just terrifying, and honestly a huge reality check for all of us,” Giuliani says. “We obviously don’t ever want to risk something like this happening again, so we’ve had to say goodbye to some traditions and come up with some new ones that Mia can safely be a part of.”
In early October of this year, Giuliani took to social media to share her family’s story and ask people to take part in the Teal Pumpkin Project, a nationwide campaign that works to make the night safe for all children by encouraging people to give out nonfood treats on Halloween in addition to candy.
The Teal Pumpkin Project — named for the color representing food allergy awareness — aims to ease anxiety around Halloween by making it as inclusive as possible for all children. It started in 2014 as a local activity by the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee and has grown into a national grassroots campaign.
Anyone can participate by:
Placing a teal pumpkin or a picture of one in front of your home to show that you have nonfood treats
Having nonfood treats for trick-or-treaters in a container separate from candy
“I think it’s important to teach people how careful children with food allergies have to be,” Giuliani says. “Mia didn’t choose to have these allergies, and I don’t choose to live in constant fear that one wrong bite could earn us another trip to the ER or worse.”
The Risk on Halloween for Children with Food Allergies
The CDC says food allergies have become more common, rising from 3.4% of all children in 1997 to 5.1% in 2011, an increase of 50%. The prevalence of peanut and tree nut allergies also tripled between the late 1990s and mid-2000s. It’s now estimated that 4 million to 6 million children under the age of 18 have food allergies, meaning 1 in every 13 children are restricted in what they can safely eat.
“That means if you have 50 trick-or-treaters come to your house on Halloween night, four have some sort of food allergy. If you have 100 visit your house, it’s seven or eight. That’s significant. That’s a lot of children who could be given treats that aren’t safe for them” says Erin Malawer, the mother of a child with a peanut allergy and author of the popular food allergy blog Allergy Shmallergy.
Risks vary for children because food allergy reactions are very different. One child can get hives from peanuts, while another could stop breathing. Some children react simply by touching an allergen, and others have to eat or drink it. But the advocacy group FARE — Food Allergy Research and Education — says a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room every 3 minutes, and about 40% of children with food allergies have had a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis — a sudden reaction that could be deadly.
“Some children just get hives while others progress to trouble breathing, feeling like their throat is closing, and vomiting. Ultimately, if anaphylaxis isn’t treated in time, it can involve a drop in blood pressure and death, and that can happen in minutes,” says Jennifer Shih, MD, director of allergy and immunology at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “If something is manufactured or produced or handled along with a potential allergen for a child, there is also a risk of cross-contamination, where they can still have a reaction to a product that can potentially be as strong as ingesting it.”
Parents of children with food allergies say figuring out what is safe is especially difficult on Halloween because risks can go far beyond candy that has an allergen.
“This is not a carefree holiday for allergy families,” Malawer says. “While other families just have to put a costume on their children and remember to grab a flashlight, we worry our children could have to go to the ER and could even die from just taking a bite or touching something that has their allergen in it or residue of that allergen.”
Miniature sizes of candy often change ingredients from their larger versions or are made in different facilities that may process the allergen, so what you know is safe in larger portions may not be safe in smaller ones. Many individually wrapped candies handed out at Halloween also don’t have ingredient labels, making it hard to know what allergens they contain.
“The teal pumpkin is a signal or a sign for families that they can go to a house that is safe for food allergies.” Shih says. “That is important because I don’t think we do a great job realizing how much anxiety there is related to food allergies — not just for children, but their families.”
Embracing the Awareness Campaign
About 1 in 3 children with food allergies report being bullied for their allergy — making them twice as likely as children without a medical condition to be bullied. Experts say that’s why building awareness about food allergies through the Teal Pumpkin Project is so important. Many in the food allergy community say they feel more pressure and bullying on Halloween and often hear suggestions that children shouldn’t take part if they can’t accept whatever candy is offered.
“It’s the most infuriating thing to hear that someone feels your child shouldn’t participate in society and such a big community event as Halloween. It’s a child-centric holiday, and all should participate,” Malawer says.
Stephanie McDowell agrees inclusion is important, especially around big events like Halloween. Her 8½-year-old son, Teddy, has required a feeding tube since birth because of eosinophilic esophagitis, a chronic immune disease associated with multiple food allergies, and she says it’s been heartbreaking to see how much he’s been excluded from in his young life.
“The Teal Pumpkin Project strives to include everyone in this national night out for children, and it’s heartwarming,” McDowell says. “There is such a disconnect between people who have children with food restrictions and people who don’t. To get people understanding what life is like on this side of that street is hard. The Teal Pumpkin Project starts that conversation and puts that awareness out there for so many people.”
Families of children with food allergies say it’s been heartening to see the Teal Pumpkin Project become more popular in stores. Bags of nonfood treats and teal pumpkin decorations are now commonly sold in Halloween aisles of grocery stores, drugstores, and big-box stores. But many families say there is still a need to spread awareness because many have yet to find a house in their neighborhood that’s taking part.
“There is a higher consciousness about the Teal Pumpkin Project this year, but is it translating wholesale to homes? No, not all the way,” Malawer says. “I think a lot of the teal pumpkins being bought are by families with food allergies. But that is OK. It may be the only way this will really spread.”
Tips for a Safe and Inclusive Halloween
FARE has created an online registry and interactive map for people taking part in the Teal Pumpkin campaign to help families of children with food allergies find homes near them that are participating. The group also has free printable materials you can hang in a window to show trick-or-treaters you are taking part.
Shih says there are many other ways to ensure a safe Halloween for children who can’t eat all candy offered.
Throw a party at your own house so you know exactly what is being served.
Before Halloween, talk with close neighbors about what your child can have and perhaps even give them some nonfood items they can share with your child when they knock on their door.
Talk in advance with your neighborhood association or building management to see if you can advertise that children with food allergies live in the area, and share information about the Teal Pumpkin Project.
Keep your epinephrine injector with your child while trick-or-treating, and have a cellphone on hand in case you need to call 911.
Malawer also recommends talking in advance with your children about what to do when they get to a house that is only offering items that aren’t safe for them. She says some families are OK with their children picking up those items, but others want them to pass because of the risk of cross-contamination. She says you can take a burden off your child by giving them the knowledge and confidence of what to say and do when that happens.
“It’s a lot of pressure for children. They are staring at a host who is often an adult and really wants them to take something they know they can’t have,” Malawer explains. “We don’t want children to feel in that moment that they have to take something they know isn’t safe for them. We also don’t want to send them the message that their allergy is a burden or inconvenience for others. The more we build awareness of how emotionally challenging all of this can be for children, the more we can take some of that burden off of them.”
Malawer says she taught her son to simply say, “Thank you for offering. I have a food allergy and can’t have that. Happy Halloween!”
Once you’re home, children can also swap out candy they’ve collected for safer items — food or otherwise. Families of young children often do this by introducing the Halloween concept of the “Switch Witch” — a good witch that visits homes on Halloween night to trade out unsafe Halloween candy for a toy or other safe treats.
Mia’s family will be trying the Switch Witch this year for their little girl who’s now 3 and wants to dress up as Owlette — a superhero from the children’s TV show PJ Masks — this Halloween. She’s also told her parents she doesn’t want to go back to the hospital this year.
“The burden for children with food allergies is bigger, because they are smaller and have more to learn, so we need to protect them. That is our job as adults, and the Teal Pumpkin Project helps us all do that, which is a beautiful and really important thing,” Malawer says.
From Food Allergy Resource and Education, these are some recommended non-candy Halloween treats to offer:
SATURDAY, Oct. 20, 2018 — Teens with allergies and asthma can enjoy Halloween as long as they take precautions, an allergist says.
“There’s no reason a teen with allergies should have to miss anything,” said Dr. Bradley Chipps, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Teens usually know the drill when it comes to handling their food allergies, seasonal allergies or asthma, he said.
“Providing your teen with common-sense guidelines regarding what they can eat and what they need to steer clear of means they can join the fun and be wheeze and sneeze-free,” Chipps said in a college news release.
At Halloween parties, teens with asthma should avoid cigarette smoke, smoke machines, bonfires and fireworks, and should carry their rescue inhaler in case accidental exposure to smoke triggers wheezing or other asthma symptoms.
Allergen information is not available for many Halloween treats and foods served at Halloween parties, which can put teens with food allergies at risk. These teens should take their own safe treats to parties, Chipps said.
Teens with food allergies may also want to host their own party so they have control over what’s being served.
Smoke and food aren’t the only holiday threats. Some Halloween makeup contains ingredients that cause allergic reactions, especially for teens with eczema or other allergic skin conditions. Try to find high-quality hypoallergenic makeup and test any makeup on a small patch of skin first to see if there’s any reaction, Chipps said.
If a teen is allergic to latex, make sure to check for it when choosing a costume or mask.
Teens with asthma should always carry needed medications, including their rescue inhaler. Those with a food allergy should always have two epinephrine auto-injectors and their cellphone in case an emergency arises.
These teens should also make sure that their friends know about their allergies or asthma so they can help if a reaction occurs, Chipps said.
Whether you’re toking up before eating your children’s candy, getting high to inspire jack-o-lantern designs or enhancing the visual aspects of The Nightmare Before Christmas (it’s not just a Christmas flick), you’ll find that cannabis can come in handy during Halloween season. And as with pumpkin beers and witches’ brew, there are plenty of scary strains to heighten the spirit.
MONDAY, Oct. 30, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Black licorice candy may be more trick than treat for adults, according to a new U.S. Food and Drug Administration warning.
For people 40 and older, eating 2 ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks could trigger an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) and other troubles, the agency warned in advance of Halloween.
After one stops eating black licorice, potassium levels typically return to normal and there are no permanent health problems, according to the agency.
The FDA offered the following advice for people who enjoy black licorice.
No matter your age, don’t eat large amounts at one time. If you have been eating a lot of black licorice and have an irregular heart rhythm or muscle weakness, stop eating it immediately and contact your health care provider.
Black licorice can interact with some medications, herbs and dietary supplements. Talk to your health care professional about possible interactions.
The FDA also noted that licorice has a long history of use as a folk or traditional remedy for conditions such as heartburn, stomach ulcers, bronchitis, sore throat, cough, and some infections caused by viruses like hepatitis. However, there’s no proof that licorice is effective in treating any medical condition.
Licorice is also used as a flavoring in food, but many “licorice” or “licorice flavor” products made in the United States do not contain any licorice. Instead, they contain anise oil, which has the same smell and taste, the FDA said.
FRIDAY, Oct. 27, 2017 — If you’re tempted to buy Halloween-styled contact lenses without a prescription — don’t do it, eye experts warn.
Doing so could lead to serious problems and potentially damage your eyesight, according to the American Optometric Association.
Some decorative lenses are sold illegally at flea markets, beauty salons, convenience stores, national retailers and over the internet.
Never buy contact lenses from these sources, the association says.
“If you can walk in off the street, or log on to a website and buy them without verification of your prescription, the lenses are not being sold legally,” said Dr. Glenda Secor, past chair of the association’s contact lens and cornea section.
“Even though these are non-corrective lenses, they still pose the same potential health and safety risks as other contact lenses,” said Secor.
“When purchased over the counter, decorative contact lenses can put people at risk for bacterial infections, allergic reactions, or even significant damage to the eye’s ability to function, with the potential for irreversible sight loss,” Secor said in a news release from the group. “Sadly, numerous cases of serious harm have been documented.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifies contact lenses as medical devices. They require a prescription, whether they’re meant to correct your vision or to be worn on special occasions such as Halloween.
A 2015 association survey found that 16 percent of Americans have worn non-vision-correcting decorative contact lenses as part of a costume or for other non-medical purposes. More than one-quarter of them bought the lenses without a prescription from a source other than an eye doctor.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on contact lenses.
SATURDAY, Oct. 14, 2017 — Halloween’s frights extend beyond goblins and ghouls if you’re a child with food allergies or asthma.
“You want Halloween to be scary for the right reasons — ghosts, goblins and witches — not allergies and asthma,” said allergist Dr. Stephen Tilles, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
“If you follow a few common-sense rules, you should be able to keep your kids safe and the party going without allergy and asthma symptoms,” he said in an association news release.
Here, Tilles offers parents tips on how to limit the risk of allergic reactions:
Don’t let children consume any candy that isn’t clearly labeled for indications of potential allergens. Have them bring all goodies home for you to inspect, or drop off safe treats for your child with friends and at school.
Does your child have asthma? Keep an inhaler on hand while trick-or-treating, in case of exposure to smoke machines or mold while running door to door. A child who wheezes might also do better with a hat than a mask.
Pay attention to costuming. For example, children who struggle with a metal allergy might do well to wear gloves. And for those at risk for eczema, use only hypoallergenic makeup, or avoid makeup altogether. Also, read garment labels to avoid materials such as latex that could pose a problem.
A teal-colored pumpkin on the doorstep is considered an indicator of food allergy awareness. This lets others know that that particular household will provide a nonfood trick-or-treat alternative.
SATURDAY, Oct. 7, 2017 — A child with diabetes can still experience the fun of Halloween, one expert says.
Dr. Steven Mittelman is chief of pediatric endocrinology at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles. He suggests that parents of a child with type 1 or type 2 diabetes set the same rules for all the children in the house, regardless of diabetes status.
Those rules, he said, should be discussed with children in advance, so they feel they have a hand in establishing a plan.
And that plan, Mittelman added, should put the focus on activities rather than candy. Those can include costuming, decorating and holiday-related arts and crafts.
That said, a little bit of candy may be all right.
“Let your child enjoy some candy, making sure they monitor their blood glucose and take their medications as prescribed,” said Mittelman.
“For children who take insulin with all meals and snacks, combining candy with a meal can reduce the need for extra injections, and helps reduce the blood glucose spikes from candy alone,” he added.
Mittelman does, however, advocate limiting a diabetic child to one favorite candy. The rest should be tossed, donated or perhaps even “sold” back to the parents by the child in exchange for money, stickers or toys.
Vigilance, he added, is important.
“The candy you don’t know your child is eating can be particularly concerning,” Mittelman said in a hospital news release. “Make sure you and your child are on the same page with the plan and why it is important.”
Some kids will have a tougher time with the Halloween plan than others.
“For children who have a hard time resisting, remove extra candy to a safe location your child can’t get to. And consider checking your child’s blood glucose an extra time or two during the night, to make sure you can get them back on target,” Mittelman said.