We've all heard horror stories about the dangers lurking at Halloween time - think poisoned apples or strangers hiding around the corner. But those scenarios are rare; the real dangers are more commonplace than you may think. With sensible precautions and a little common sense, you and your children can avoid Halloween hazards and mishaps and spend more time enjoying the holiday with the other ghosts and goblins.
Yvette Pierce, trauma nurse at Intermountain Alta View Hospital shares her safety tips for staying out of the emergency room this Halloween.
- Make costumes visible: Choose costumes and props that have bright colors. For greater visibility, add reflective tape to costumes or trick-or-treat bags.
- Proper fit: Costumes should fit appropriately and should not impair movement. Costumes should be short enough to prevent tripping or getting tangled in trees or bushes. Flowing objects such as capes and gowns should not go past the ankle.
- Appropriate footwear: Avoid shoes that fit improperly or could interfere with balance, such as high heels, stilts, or large clown-type footwear. "As kids run from house to house, it's important that their costume will keep them clear of trips and falls," Pierce says.
- Masks with proper visibility: If a costume includes a mask, make sure your kids are able to see properly. The mask should fit securely and allow the child to see their surroundings.
- Non-toxic makeup: To avoid an allergic reaction, make sure to purchase costumes and makeup that are non-toxic.
- Beware of sharp objects: Use caution when selecting Halloween accessories such as swords, wands, light sabers, canes, etc. Opt for a fake version that is dull, soft and flexible, and avoid materials that have sharp edges or medal that could cause injury if the child falls.
- Flame resistant costumes: It's important to ensure costumes are not flammable. Look for a label that indicates the costume is flame resistant.
"Kids are more likely to be hit by a car on Halloween night than any other night of the year," says Pierce.
Combine the thrill of Halloween with the sugar rush that inevitably comes, and even the most careful child can forget to look both ways before crossing the street. So a gentle reminder can go a long way. Here are a few more suggestions:
- Make sure each child has her own flashlight with new batteries
- Stay in well-lit areas
- If your child is old enough to trick-or-treat on their own, make sure they go in groups, and always travel with a cell phone. Make sure they know how to call 9-1-1 if an emergency comes up, or they get lost
- Be watchful of food allergies: If you know your child has an allergy to certain types of candy, check the candy before they eat it. Hidden ingredients can cause an allergic reaction
- Enjoy candy at home: Avoid eating candy while you're trick-or-treating. Take it home, inspect it, and make sure everything looks okay. Throw away candy that has been opened or appears homemade from a home you're not familiar with
Pumpkin carving safety
"Most of the pumpkin carving injuries we see in the emergency room are stab wounds to the fingers, palms and hands," Pierce says. "Add slippery pumpkin-pulp covered hands to the tugging and pulling of the knife, and you're bound for a stab injury than can cause damage to nerves, tendons, and even arteries."
Here are some tips to carve pumpkins the safe way:
- Leave the top on: Carve the pumpkin face first - before taking the top off and carving out the insides. This will help to avoid injury that can come when you put your hand into the pumpkin to stabilize it while carving. Pierce recommends using the stem to stabilize the pumpkin and try to keep the knife facing down instead of up.
- Forget kitchen knives: Opt for a pumpkin carving kit with a specialty knife meant to break through tough pumpkin rinds without being as sharp as a regular knife.