Halloween can be thrilling and fun, but also potentially dangerous. Pumpkin carving, costumes, unfamiliar homes, and young children traveling in darkness all provide possible scenarios for accidents and injuries.
A nine-year study examining holiday-related pediatric emergency room visits between 1997 and 2006 showed Halloween among the top three holidays for ER visits with finger/hand injuries accounting for the greatest proportion of injuries – mainly lacerations and fractures. And ages 10-14 sustained most of these injuries.
So here are 5 HALLOWEEN SAFETY TIPS:
1. Safe Costumes: Costumes should be flame-resistant and fit properly. Costumes that are too long may cause kids to trip and fall, so trim or hem them as necessary. Be sure that your or your child’s vision is not obstructed by masks, face paint or hats. Go ahead and make mask eye and breathing holes larger. Wear sturdy, comfortable, slip-resistant shoes to avoid falls. If you make your costume, use flame-resistant fabrics such as polyester or nylon. If you wear make up test it a few days before to rule out an allergic reaction. And those glow in the dark cat eyes? Well the FDA & Opthamologists are discouraging them because of the long term risks they pose.
2. Be Bright at Night – Add reflective plastic tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags to make yourself and your kids more visible. Also carry a flashlight (use fresh batteries!) to see and be seen – or a glow stick or little flashing decorations, at least.
3. Have a Careful Contact Strategy – If your child doesn’t carry an I.D., simply jot down name/ address/contact info, place it a small plastic zipper bag and slide it into a pocket. A cell phone that has been preset with home and parent cell numbers in the phone adds another layer of protection.
4. Protected Pumpkin Carving: In general, children should not carve pumpkins. However, some Halloween carving devices, designed especially for children, may be safe for use with parental supervision. Children also can empty the seeds out of the pumpkin, or use a pumpkin decorating sticker kit that does not involve carving to stay safely involved.
5. Be Inspector Gadget: 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 or any chocking hazards for small children such as gum peanuts or hard candy. It’s a good idea to eat a snack before heading out, so you won’t be tempted to nibble on treats that haven’t been inspected. And, hey why not lead by example and give out fun inspirational stickers and pencils rather than candy!
Have a fun safe time as you light the night!
Sources: The FDA, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and the American Chemistry Council