Halloween Hazards That Could Scare You to Death

Halloween Hazards

Aside from the well-known and documented hazards of Halloween, like treats tainted with sharps and poison and pedestrians hit by cars, there are a few others that might never cross your mind.

Glow Sticks

Poison centers around the country get hundreds of calls around popular holidays like Halloween. The chemical that makes the sticks glow is called “dibutyl phthalate.” If it gets out of the stick and onto your body, it stings and burns. If it gets in your mouth, your lips and tongue will glow, and you probably swallowed some or all of it, which irritates your throat and makes it feel sore. If it gets in your eyes, your eyes will swell and hurt and feel sensitive to light. While glow sticks are not deadly, the chemical inside them, if it leaks out, can cause a lot of discomfort and pain and give you a good Halloween scare.

Candy

The infamous Halloween hazards of poison and sharps hidden in treats are not the only ways candy presents real Halloween hazards.

Sorbitol

Sorbitol is an artificial sweetener used in many candies, especially diet candies. As little as 10 grams of Sorbitol can cause gastrointestinal problems ranging from mild gas to severe diarrhea. And children may be affected by consuming less than 10 grams.

Licorice

The black version of this old-fashioned Halloween favorite contains a sweetening agent called “glycyrrhizin,” which causes potassium levels in the body to fall. Low potassium levels cause some people, especially older adults over age 40, to experience a life-threatening cardiac event such as arrhythmia, high blood pressure, swelling, and congestive heart failure. This is especially true for individuals over age 40 who also have a history of heart disease or high blood pressure. Just a few ounces of this candy, which is made from a low-growing shrub that grows in Greece, Turkey, and Asia, can land you in the hospital or, worse, the morgue.

If you are over age 40 and enjoy licorice, don’t eat more than two ounces at once and don’t eat it every day. According the FDA, eating just two ounces of licorice daily for two weeks can cause an irregular heartbeat.

Licorice can also interfere with some medications and dietary supplements. The FDA recommends you ask a health care professional if it is safe for you to eat Licorice is you are taking any medications.

Lead

Some costumes, decorations, and toys present Halloween hazards because they are coated with paint that contains lead – more lead than the FDA’s 0.5 ml. allowable limit for lead in products intended for use by children.

Lead enters the body through the lungs during breathing and through the mouth when lead particles are swallowed after something containing led is put in the mouth. A very small amount of lead can make you sick, and lead stays in the blood for months and is stored in the bones for 30 years or more. Higher does can kill you. Lead damages the heart, the body’s ability to make bone marrow, the kidneys, and, most frequently, the brain and nervous system. Some of the symptoms of lead poisoning, when they are present, are weakness, fatigue, depression, irritability, forgetfulness, and, in children, hyperactivity.

Children are especially at risk for lead poisoning because their bodies absorb 50% of the lead they ingest. It takes very little lead to poison them and they are affected very quickly. The EPA refers to lead as “the most significant environmental health hazard for children in the United States” (https://www.epa.gov). Children who are poisoned by lead usually do not seem sick, according to the CDC.

I Thought That Was a Decoration!

It’s Halloween. We expect to see fake mangled, bloody corpses and bloody weapons in plain view. But there are numerous documented cases of real dead bodies mistaken for Halloween pranks and of real criminals in costume with real weapons mistaken for innocuous trick-or-treaters. Halloween provides the perfect cover for the all-too-real wicked and macabre.

Last Halloween in an Ohio town, several contractors working in the area ignored what they thought was a Halloween zombie hanging on a neighborhood chain-link fence, as did one of the neighbors, who also thought it was a Halloween prank. It turned out to be a real woman who had been brutally beat to death.

On Halloween of 2013 in Brooklyn, New York, a person dressed in a “Scream” mask shot to death a 19-year-old man.

On Halloween of 2005 in Delaware, a body hanging from a tree was ignored by passersby who thought it was a Halloween prank. It was the real body of a woman who had climbed into the tree and hanged herself.


We are Advanced Bio Treatment, and we care about the communities we serve. We want to help you protect yourself and those you love by giving you a heads-up on some Halloween hazards that you might not be aware of. Should you need our services, please call us at 800-295-1684. We give free quotes, provide emergency services, work with your insurance company, and respond 24/7/365.

 

Sources:

https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov

https://www.epa.gov

http://www.fda.gov

Mental Illness and Suicide: The Lethal Stigmas

September was National Suicide Prevention month. The goal of these designations is to raise awareness of a problem that is far more frequent and misunderstood than most of us realize. We at Advanced Bio Treatment realize it because so many of our calls involve cleaning up the scene of a suicide. They are some of the most difficult calls we handle.

And the greatest tragedy is that suicide is 100% preventable.

While pain and grief accompany all deaths, the agony we witness at the scene of a suicide is different. Loved ones are often plagued with shock and guilt. Most sadly, they feel shamed and disgraced because even in the progressive 21st century, the stigmas attached to suicide, and to the depression and mental illness that likely caused the suicide, linger beneath the surface of a culture that still points a judgmental finger at suicide.

This quiet but unmistakable undercurrent marginalizes the death of a suicide victim by branding the victim “weak,” “crazy,” “selfish,” “theatrical,” or “cowardly.” Suicide victims and their loved ones do not garner the same compassion and understanding as victims of other kinds of deaths. These ignorant stigmas and stereotypes are exacerbated by popular-media portrayals of the mentally ill, which, according to the Huffington Post, are “either frightening or funny or both.”

We witnessed this lethal thinking at one especially terrible suicide scene that we were hired to clean. A young woman had suddenly stopped her car, gotten out, and jumped from an overpass onto the busy expressway below. She died instantly but left not only devastated family and friends but also numerous devastated drivers and passengers who witnessed the suicide and who were involved in a multi-car accident trying to avoid hitting her body.

We later overheard her employer tell a bystander, “Victoria was a drama queen. My guess is she was just trying to get attention from her boyfriend, who was driving with me in the car behind her, and then all of a sudden, uh-oh, woops! Took this a little too far! Didn’t mean for THAT to happen!”

Victoria, it turned out, had a long history of severe depression and mood disorders, and, like most suicide victims, she had threatened to take her life numerous times before she finally succeeded. She was 31.

Why don’t people who suffer depression and mental illness seek help? Often because they are stigmatized for life. They are ashamed and frightened. They often don’t have the support of family and friends. They convince themselves that they can handle the problem themselves. Other times, they simply don’t recognize that they have a problem.

According to the American Association of Suicidology,

  • In 2014, 117 completed suicides took place every day, which translates into a completed suicide every 13 minutes and an attempt every 30 seconds.
  • There are 25 attempts for every completed suicide.
  • Nationally, 42,773 took their own lives in 2014.
  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 25-34 and the 10th leading cause of death overall, with homicide following in a distant 17th
  • Since 2004, the suicide rates among all age groups has steadily increased.

Of these suicides, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “22 veterans and one service member take their lives each day.”

Horrifying statistics.

What can you do?

Recognize the prevailing signs of someone at risk of taking his or her own life:

  • Talking or writing about ending one’s life.
  • Threatening suicide.
  • Attempting suicide.
  • Feeling hopeless and trapped.
  • Collecting weapons like pills, knives, or guns.
  • Exhibiting self-destructive behavior like using drugs, drinking excessively, or taking reckless risks.
  • Withdrawing from family and friends, isolation.

Intervene:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask the person if he or she is suicidal. You can’t “put the idea in someone’s head” or make a non-suicidal person suicidal.
  • Listen without giving advice or judging.
  • Show compassion and concern.
  • Let the person know he or she is not alone.
  • Check in on the person. Don’t wait for the person to ask for company or help.
  • Encourage positive life changes, such as exercise, nutrition, sufficient sleep.
  • Offer to assist the person in getting help.
  • Call a crisis center or 911 if suicide seems imminent.
  • NEVER blame yourself.
  • NEVER argue or try to persuade the person that he or she “has so much to live for.” Just like you can’t put the notion of suicide in someone’s head, you can’t talk a person out of it, either.
  • NEVER promise confidentiality. Remember that a life is at stake.
  • NEVER act shocked, pass judgment, or try to make the person feel guilty with statements like “this will devastate your children.”

If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide, please don’t wait. Help is available 24 hours every day, every day of the year. We have listed several good resources at the bottom of this article.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.


We are Advanced Bio Treatment, and we care about the communities we serve. We want to help you protect yourself and those you love. Should you need our services, please call us at 800-295-1684. We give free quotes, provide emergency services, work with your insurance company, and respond 24/7/365.

Our Sources and Resources for You

http://www.huffingtonpost.com

http://www.suicidology.org

http://www.nami.org

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now/

What You Don’t Know About Blood-Borne Pathogens

OSHA defines blood-borne pathogens as “infectious microorganisms in human blood that can cause disease in humans” (https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/bloodbornepathogens/). They include the deadly Hepatitis B and C viruses and also HIV.

The Hepatitis B virus can live for up to a week on a contaminated surface. Hepatitis C can live for up to 4 days outside the body.

Blood-borne pathogens are transmitted via blood and other bodily fluids when the blood or fluid makes contact with the bloodstream of an uninfected person. This contact happens when blood and bodily fluids touch the broken skin or mucous membrane of an uninfected person. “Broken skin” can be as tiny as an insect bite or pinhole puncture created by a needle or any sharp object. It can be simply the damaged skin of a sunburn or blister. Mucous membranes exist in the eyes, nose, and mouth. They also exist in the female genitals.

Some of the people most at risk for contact with blood-borne pathogens are first responders, medical and healthcare workers, housekeeping personnel, and anyone who shares a needle.

No individual, however, is at no risk for exposure.

Some common and potentially disastrous misconceptions we come across in our day-to-day business activities:

  1. I don’t have to wash my hands after removing protective gloves.
    False. Gloves can have tiny pinholes that you cannot see. Also, the simple act of removing them can transfer blood-borne pathogens to your skin. Always wash your hands thoroughly after removing gloves that have come in contact with blood and other bodily fluids.
  2. Dried blood on a surface is not dangerous.
    False. Many blood-borne pathogens can live for days outside the body. Dried blood is every bit as dangerous as fresh blood.
  3. If I don’t see any blood at an accident scene, I do not have to worry about blood-borne pathogens.
    False. Other bodily fluids carry blood-borne pathogens and also have occult (hidden) blood in them and can be as infectious as visible blood.
    Also, blood and bodily fluids are not always visible to the naked eye.
  4. I can place items soiled with blood in securely tied plastic bags and dispose of the bags with my regular garbage.

False. Items contaminated with blood and bodily fluids are considered regulated waste and must be disposed of in properly labeled containers or special biohazard bags and then safely transported to an approved facility.

Most of us never expect to come in contact with blood or bodily fluids, or with the deadly pathogens they can carry, in our day-to-day lives. We therefore are simply not prepared to protect ourselves or others. That’s why we recommend that you leave the cleanup of any accident site, especially if it is large, very messy, or publicly accessed, to a professional communicable disease cleanup company like ABT.
What can we do that you can’t?

A lot, when you consider that your safety, the safety of your loved ones, and the safety of the public are at stake.

  • We use only professional-grade equipment, hospital-grade disinfectants, and OSHA-approved PPE (personal protective equipment).
  • We know how to eliminate all risk of personal injury, cross-contamination, and infection.
  • We know how to sanitize and decontaminate an accident site that involves blood and bodily fluids and restore it to a fully safe, clean environment.
  • We know what can be safely cleaned and disinfected and what can’t.
  • We know how and where to look for hidden blood-borne pathogens that you cannot see.
  • We have the knowledge and equipment to safely package, remove, and dispose of materials that cannot be safely decontaminated.
  • Our entire team is experienced and professionally trained to perform all these functions for you.

We are Advanced Bio Treatment, and we care about the communities we serve. Should you need our services, please call us at 800-295-1684. We give free quotes, provide emergency services, work with your insurance company, and respond 24/7/365.