Halloween Safety Month 

October is Halloween Safety Month - for obvious reasons! Halloween is supposed to be a fun experience for both kids and adults. For parents, however, Halloween is also a holiday that causes reasonable safety concerns for their children. Halloween is the fourth-most common holiday for children to receive injuries that require hospitalization. It makes sense for parents to use elevated caution when allowing their kids to go trick or treating.

Common Halloween Injuries and Prevention

Children love to dress up and have fun on Halloween. So to honor Halloween Safety Month, it is essential that parents understand the most common dangers of Halloween and how to keep their children safe this year. Here are some of them:
  • Pumpkins. Hand injuries from carving pumpkins are one of the most common afflictions seen in emergency rooms during Halloween. If not done correctly and with careful attention, carving pumpkins can be dangerous for kids and result in severe hand injuries. About 41% of injuries that required a hospital visit were pumpkin carving-related. So when carving a pumpkin, here are ways to minimize the risk of injury. First, use specialized pumpkin carving tools. People tend to grab a kitchen knife for carving, but kitchen knives are more likely to slip and cause an injury when used on pumpkins. Second, always support the pumpkin with one hand while carving with the other to prevent the pumpkin from sliding or wobbling.
  • Costumes. Halloween costumes involving capes and long dresses can increase the possibility of kids tripping and falling, which may cause severe sprains or other injuries. Masks can impair vision, making it more challenging to see in the night. Masks can also limit a child’s field of view, which makes it harder for them to see oncoming traffic. Parents should make sure to look both ways before crossing the street.
  • Burns. Lighting pumpkins often involves the use of candles. Combining Halloween costumes made with loose-hanging and highly flammable fabrics with candles is very risky, as the costumes can catch fire. Children’s costumes also often include long wigs and beards, a hazard kids may not consider when around open flames. When handling candles, make sure children’s clothing isn’t hanging loose and have them remove wigs, beards, and anything else that may quickly catch fire. Look for flame-resistant costume material and avoid cotton fabric as it catches fire rapidly. A much safer alternative would be to replace traditional candles with rechargeable or battery powered votive candles which do not require open flames.
  • Traffic. It comes as no surprise that traffic accidents increase during Halloween. In addition, about half of these traffic accidents involve some degree of alcohol consumption. Reckless drivers mixed with kids randomly walking the streets is a dangerous combination. To keep children as safe as possible this Halloween, make sure they use the sidewalks only to lower the risk of an accident. Also, stay within a well-known, "Trick or Treat friendly" neighborhood. Traffic flow should be slower and less frequent in the community since neighbors will be staying in to give out candy. Some neighborhoods even block off the streets and don't allow drivers, to better ensure safety.  Also, keep dark clothing to a minimum and have flashlights or reflectors on the kids’ costumes to make it easier for drivers to see them. Glow sticks are a fun way to keep the kids safer on the streets.
  • Candy. It is tragic that there have been cases of children dying or becoming ill from poisoned candy. One child on the 31st of October, 1972 died when he ate a Pixie Stix candy deliberately laced with cyanide. However, these reported cases have since fizzled out and candy poisoning is extremely rare. With that being said, responsible parents wouldn’t let that suffice as peace of mind. Always inspect a child’s Halloween candy before allowing him or her to eat it. Look out for unopened wrapping or wrapping that looks like someone may have tampered with it. Also, look out for any unusual objects that may not look edible or look like candy. Always trick or treat in neighborhoods and at homes you know are safe. Many organizations offer festivals or trick or treating in controlled environments, which are considered a great option. Finally, check the candy for any suspicious odors that seem to resemble anything else but candy. If there as any suspicion of child poisoning, call both 911 and the Poison Control Center immediately.

Have a Fun and Safe Halloween

Halloween is supposed to be fun. It is a time of year when children and adults can pretend to be their favorite superhero, music artist, literary character, or even a box of kleenex, for just one night. By keeping children out of harm’s way, everyone can get the most out of Halloween this year!

Unfortunately, Halloween is a busy time for Emergency Rooms. The Emergency Center hopes that you and your loved ones are safe and happy this Halloween. But if you do need care, do not hesitate to come to The Emergency Center. We offer free Medical Screening Exams to determine if you are having a true emergency or if it can wait for an Urgent Care or your regular physician.  The Emergency Center provides up to 23 hours of Observation and offers 24/7 care with NO WAITING. Visit one of The Emergency Center’s convenient 24-hour locations in ArlingtonFort Worth, and San Antonio.