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DC Department of Health Reminds Residents to Be Safe When Preparing for Halloween Festivities

Friday, October 29, 2010
As Halloween approaches, the DC Department of Health (DOH) reminds all residents to be cautious when choosing Halloween costumes that involve decorative contact lenses and facial paints.

Washington, DC – As Halloween approaches, the DC Department of Health (DOH) reminds all residents to be cautious when choosing Halloween costumes that involve decorative contact lenses and facial paints. DOH reminds residents that decorative contacts that glow in the dark, change eye color, or create optical illusions must be prescribed, and should not be purchased from non- eye care professionals. DOH also encourages people to only use face paints or makeup that consist of color additives approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

People interested in wearing decorative contact lenses this Halloween should consult with a certified eye care professional to receive a proper eye examination and prescription for decorative lenses. Contacts sold over the internet and in retail stores without a valid prescription can cause serious eye disorders and infections that can lead to permanent vision loss. Those residents looking to use face paints this Halloween season are encouraged to test make-up or paints out on a small portion of skin several days in advance to observe for possible signs of allergic reactions. Residents using face paints or makeup this Halloween can also check to see if the additives in their makeup have been approved by the FDA before using.

Enjoy a safe and happy Halloween by following some FDA tips for costumes this season:

  • Wear costumes made of fire-retardant materials; look for “flame resistant” on the label. If you make your costume, use flame-resistant fabrics such as polyester or nylon.
  • Wear bright, reflective costumes or add strips of reflective tape so you’ll be more visible; make sure the costumes aren’t so long that you’re in danger of tripping.
  • Wear makeup and hats rather than masks that can obscure your vision.
  • Test the makeup you plan to use by putting a small amount on your arm a couple of days in advance. If you get a rash, redness, swelling, or other signs of irritation where you applied it, that’s a sign you may be allergic to it.
  • Check FDA’s list of color additives to see if additives in your makeup are FDA approved. If they aren’t approved for their intended use, don’t use it.
  • Don’t wear decorative contact lenses unless you have seen an eye care professional and gotten a proper lens fitting and instructions for using the lenses.
  • Don’t eat candy until it has been inspected at home.
  • Trick-or-treaters should eat a snack before heading out, so they won’t be tempted to nibble on treats that haven’t been inspected.
  • Tell children not to accept—or eat—anything that isn’t commercially wrapped.
  • Parents of very young children should remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, or small toys.
  • Inspect commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.

For partygoers and party throwers, FDA recommends the following tips for two seasonal favorites:

  • Look for the warning label to avoid juice that hasn’t been pasteurized or otherwise processed, especially packaged juice products that may have been made on site. When in doubt, ask! Always ask if you are unsure if a juice product is pasteurized or not. Normally, the juice found in your grocer’s frozen food case, refrigerated section, or on the shelf in boxes, bottles, or cans is pasteurized.
  • Before bobbing for apples—a favorite Halloween game—reduce the amount of bacteria that might be on apples by thoroughly rinsing them under cool running water.  As an added precaution, use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.

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