Today’s blog is a team effort of Kelly Over and Sharon Gripp. Kelly had the idea and wrote most of it, and Sharon added a bit more text and jazzed it up a bit. We hope you enjoy it!
HAPPY HALLOWEEN from the Pesticide Education Program! Since our blog happens to come out on October 31st this year, we wanted to appropriately show patronage to the holiday. After all, no Halloween celebration would be complete without candy corn, popcorn balls, witches’ laughter, colorful costumes, and scary masks.
So why do we wear masks around Halloween? Some historians trace the first use of the mask to Samhain, a Celtic festival that was a celebration of the end of summer, an appreciation for a bountiful harvest season, and also the preparation for the upcoming winter months. Since Celts believed unusual apparitions (or “ghosts”) could enter their homes at this time, the Celts would wear frightening masks to keep any harm away. (1, 2)
A scary face to keep people safe? Sound familiar at all? Think of “Mr. Yuk!” “More than 2 million poisonings are reported each year to the 57 poison control centers across the country.” And do you know that more than 90 percent of these poisonings occur in the home and more than 50 percent are in children 5 years and younger? (3) Adults can use our favorite poison prevention advocate, Mr. Yuk—with his unpleasant face—to teach all children to STAY AWAY. Mr. Yuk stickers should be placed on household chemical products reminding all family members that these products could be dangerous.
The history of Halloween masks expands beyond the holiday. During the Italian Renaissance period, high society class members would wear lavish, elegant masks to masquerade balls to disguise their appearance, mostly so they could participate in happenings that were usually unacceptable for their social class. (1)
Disguising an Appearance? Definitely not something you want to do with poisons! Remember to keep products in their original containers so others know the identity of the substance and how to safely act around it. Plus, since every Mr. Yuk sticker displays the national Poison Control Number (1-800-222-1222), one will know who to call for help in case of a poison emergency!
So who is Mr. Yuk? Mr. Yuk was created by the Pittsburgh Poison Center to promote poison prevention and the poison center. (4) Now, how do you get Mr. Yuk stickers? Send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to our office at
Penn State Pesticide Education Program
Attention Mr. Yuk
114 Buckhout Lab
University Park, PA 16802
and we will send you a few sheets of Mr. Yuk stickers. You can start using them next week! Why not address the envelope in your kid’s name so they can open the envelope. This will get them excited to have mail addressed to them and then you can explain how to use the stickers to keep everyone safe from poisons in your home.
If you still are not convinced about the significance of Mr. Yuk (or even if you are), you must listen to this Mr. Yuk song, which is very similar to the Mr. Yuk commercials that were on television decades ago (4) It’s rare to find a message so educational, entertaining, and, well, even a bit spooky. The song is an excellent reminder that…
“Mr. Yuk is Mean, Mr. Yuk is Green. When You See Him, Stop and Think. Do Not Smell, Do Not Drink. Do Not Touch. Do Not Eat. Or You Will Be Sick.”
Remember on Halloween and every day,
Mr. Yuk is Mean, Mr. Yuk is Green.
Until Next Time,
(1) The History of the Halloween Mask. http://www.superpages.com/supertips/halloween-mask.html
(2) Santino, Jack. The Fantasy and Folklore of All Hallows. http://www.loc.gov/folklife/halloween.html
(3) Poison Prevention.org. http://www.poisonprevention.org/index.htm
(4) Mr. Yuk, Pittsburgh Poison Center. http://www.chp.edu/CHP/mryuk