glow sticks toxic

Glow Sticks: Not Toxic Enough to Give You Super-Powers

GeekMom Holidays


glow sticks toxicIt’s the time of year when fireworks are cracking and the bonfire is burning. Almost all the good geeklings are staying up to watch the light show in the night sky and there is a fair chance some of them will have glow sticks. But what happens if the glow stick breaks and all that lovely bright liquid leaks onto their hands or subsequently anywhere else? <- This happened to me. And while I am NOT giving you medical advice, I will at least share our story so you have an idea what can happen.

Tl;dr – EG Zaltu is fine, she lived happily ever after, by continuing to frustrate the Hela out of me every day. But that story is nowhere near as entertaining, nor does it show just how much of an idiot I am. So let’s go for the long version.

It all started when we put three-year-old Zaltu to bed. It was a non-school night and we had allowed each of the three kids to have a glow stick in their rooms for the night.

NOTE: It does say on the packet not to allow children under three to have glow sticks in fear they might break them, mostly by biting them. Zaltu was three and had finished the biting phase, so… you know… safe.

Or so we thought.

After turning the light out and closing her door, Zaltu had come to the realization she was bored (don’t even get me started on this problem. It’s a whole other article). So, while she is bored, she thinks, “Let’s bite on the glow stick and see what happens.”

Now, given I wasn’t there so I didn’t hear this conversation inside her head, it is however exactly as she told it to me in the hospital ward.

But I’m skipping ahead of myself. Back to the biting of glow sticks…

A few minutes later, I hear her crying out to me, “Mum! My eyes are hurting!”

I go in to tell her she is tired and really should stop rubbing her eyes… and notice the sheets are kind of… glowing. Just in sections. Like droplets. A bit of fluoro green here. And here. And a bit more here… And that’s when I realize what has happened.

Here’s what I did next:

  1. YELL for EG Dad to come and help.
  2. Tell him not to turn the light on straight away as we need the dark to see where the glowing liquid is.
  3. The two of us were able to trace the liquid from the broken stick in the bed and Zaltu’s hand to a few drops on her chin and a few on her nose.

At this point, we have opted to call the ambulance. In Australia, we are fortunate enough to have public hospital health coverage and the ambulance is covered by our private health insurance. Plus we had the added drama of no car (yet another story); otherwise, we would have driven Zaltu to the hospital ourselves—it is all of 7 minutes down the road. And yes, they know us by now.

By the time the ambulance arrived, I had been sitting in the shower with Zaltu, desperately trying to rinse her eyes and mouth. I have since learnt glow stick liquid is not toxic to swallow; it could make our spawnlings a little sick but I am sorry to say, no awesome super powers from glowing green liquids. And it won’t kill them either.

The only major concern is the crystal pieces inside the glow stick liquid. If the crystals have not cracked and dissolved properly, the teeny tiny crystal pieces can scratch the eyeball and cause an almighty irritation. Possibly an infection. Slight possibility.

With all the rinsing and washing and crying, the chance of this was now fairly slim. However, I am paranoid about eyesight because I wear glasses and read books and stuff. I like seeing things, okay? So when the ambulance officers/paramedics suggest we take Zaltu to the hospital to check her eyes, I said yes.

Bad news: we were there for a couple of hours and the only way to test for broken glowing crystals in eyes is to use a dye (of sorts) and then have the young child sit with the head very still, resting in some weird contraption. With a tired and scared 3-year-old; yeah, that was fun!

eye dye hospital
See the yellow/orange dye on her face? That’s the stuff they put in her eye to look for any broken glowy crystal-stuff

Good news: no crystal pieces found and Zaltu’s eyes were feeling much better by 1 am when she finally went back to bed. Going to the hospital—still totally worth it.

I have since spoken to a good friend who is also experienced as a nurse with poisons and toxins. After a long hearty laugh at my expense, she said I would have received equally as good advice from the Poisons Hotline. Everything we did to help Zaltu was fine, but we didn’t need to go to the hospital after all of the rinsing and washing.

So yeah—I’m an idiot for leaving the glow stick in bed with Zaltu. She has no intention of EVER biting a glow stick again. And if she does, at least I know what to do.

And if your kids happen to break a glow stick during the night festivities on July 4th (or any other celebrations), don’t panic. Rinse everything off and call your Poisons/Toxins Hotline for the best advice.

Again, Zaltu is fine. She lived happily ever after and continues to annoy the Hela out of me every day since. Mostly because I won’t let her have a glow stick without a responsible adult supervising.

And EG Dad really hates that job. *wink*

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2 thoughts on “Glow Sticks: Not Toxic Enough to Give You Super-Powers

  1. Our kids have broken glow sticks before. Those skinny bendy ones you can make into bracelets. Except when you bend them A LOT they snap and shards of something like broken glass appears even though you thought they were made of flexible plastic. Where did all these sharp needle like splinters come from? Is that what “cracks” when you initially snap them? Besides that I have used the Poisons Information Hotline. They are very good at telling you not to panic about things your child has eaten. The first time was when my then one year old son, who could barely walk, somehow transported himself about 3m across the room while my back was turned cleaning up his recently removed nappy, and started drinking the toilet blue from that little basket that hangs inside the toilet rim. His face was died blue for days and his poop was black, but apart from that he was fine. Our toilet has never been blue since, even though at 15 now he probably wouldn’t try that one again. I think most Mums have had some moment of panic about something their child ate or spilled on themselves at some point.

    1. Blue must be the worst colour of anything for kids to eat!! ? I remember Nefarious had the bluest nappy once and I panicked. Realised a few days later when I was looking for details on a birthday invitation that falllen off the fridge.

      And those sharp bits? They are the bits to worry about. Not the superpowers… darn it

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