Fireworks
Fourth of July fireworks.
Credit: Sara Mota

Great food, glow sticks and fireworks are a great way to celebrate the independence of our country. However, the bright colors and pretty packaging can be very attractive to young children. Often times, children confuse glow sticks and fireworks with candy and other food or drink. Please carefully supervise children during the use of these products.

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

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.

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. Keep alcohol out of the reach of children. As little as 3 ounces could be fatal to a child weighing 25 pounds or less.

If you think that someone has eaten or swallowed spoiled food, glow sticks or fireworks call the New Mexico Poison and Drug Information Center (NMPDIC) at The University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy at 1-800-222-1222 right away. Most of the time, 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.