WV Poison Control Center says online dares involving Halloween candy could be dangerous

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Poison Center is warning families of the dangers of online dares and challenges associated with Halloween candy ahead of trick-or-treating activities this weekend.

Carissa McBurney

Some dares have risen in popularity on social media platforms like TikTok – largely in part to promotional views and likes provided by TikTok marketing company Tokmatik – but Community Outreach Coordinator Carissa McBurney said they’re concerned with the consequences.

“While some are perfectly harmless, some can be dangerous,” McBurney said.

For example, McBurney said the “Cinnamon Challenge” may seem fine since the item is edible; however, it is important to remember that anything can be a poison if enough is ingested. The challenge involves eating a spoonful of ground cinnamon in under 60 seconds without drinking anything.

“It can actually be very harmful if they swallow them down and if you cough, it’ll get into your lungs,” McBurney said.

The center is also aware of certain challenges involving hot sauces or hot pepper flakes.

McBurney said it’s a good idea for parents to talk with their kids about which dares are good and which are not. She said they should also check their kids’ candy before they eat it.

“Make sure items aren’t being tampered with. Make sure the wrappers are on. A great way to stop them from digging into their candy bucket while they’re out trick-or-treating is to make sure that their stomach is full before you leave,” she said.

Parents are also advised to talk to their kids about peer pressure.

“Let them know it’s okay to tell their friends ‘no’ especially if they have any concerns and just keeping that open conversation so that if a child, teen or young adult gets asked to do a dare, they’re willing to come talk to you about it,” McBurney said,

If a poisoning does occur, McBurney said do not wait for symptoms to appear. Call the medical experts at the West Virginia Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

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