Great food, glow sticks and fireworks are a great way to celebrate Independence Day. However, the bright colors and pretty packaging can be very attractive to young children, who oftentimes confuse glow sticks and fireworks with candy and other food or drink.

Glow sticks contain a chemical called dibutyl phthalate, which causes an intense burning and stinging sensation when ingested but does not actually cause burns to tissue. Dibutyl phthalate is irritating to the mouth, eyes and nose, but these symptoms typically go away within a short period of time.

Fireworks contain chemicals such as potassium nitrate, white phosphorus, barium chlorate and arsenic. Ingesting large amounts of these chemicals can lead to electrolyte imbalances and organ failure.

Please carefully supervise children during the use of either of the aforementioned products.

Food safety is another important consideration on this holiday weekend. Thoroughly cook all foods according to standard guidelines, and wash hands carefully before and after handling food. Keep “cold” foods cold and “hot” foods hot before and after serving. Refrigerate leftover food right away.

If you think that someone has eaten or swallowed spoiled food, glow sticks or fireworks, call the New Mexico Poison & Drug Information Center (NMPDIC) at 1-800-222-1222 right away. Many of these situations are not serious and can be managed at home with the help of the NMPDIC.

If you do need to go to an emergency room, the poison experts at the NMPDIC will work together with the emergency staff in providing treatment. The NMPDIC is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, including the Fourth of July.