During the time of year where you can’t quite tell if the person on the bus wearing a steampunk top-hat and pink tulle skirt is in costume or just living their best life, it’s important to keep safety in mind.
The evening of Halloween has historically had one of the highest rates of emergency department visits of any holiday in America. When you narrow those injuries down to child-pedestrian injuries, it becomes the highest.
Most Common Injuries
While not fatal, hand injuries (largely lacerations) make up a large percentage of emergency department visits. The culprit? Improperly carving pumpkins. Children can hurt their hands from the combination of thick pumpkin skins, sharp (or dull) knives, and underdeveloped hand-eye coordination. Adults hurt themselves from using the wrong tools and having worse hand-eye coordination than they might think they have.
Whether you’re an adult, a child, an adult responsible for a child, or a child responsible for an irresponsible adult, having the right tools is vital. Pumpkin carving kits are specifically designed for carving pumpkins and are relatively inexpensive.
Remember to never carve a pumpkin without supervision. Even if you think you’re responsible and are using the right tools you don’t want to risk cutting off a finger and trying to deal with that all on your own.
Extremities (hands, feet, wrists, ankles) are at particularly high risk during Halloween, and not just from pumpkins. The mix of long costumes, reduced visibility due to masks/face paint, and cold weather make nasty falls common. Extremity breaks and fractures are an extremely common injury on Halloween.
The best way to avoid a fall and an emergency department visit are by ensuring your costume would be safe to play basketball in. Can you run, maneuver quickly, and not be surprised when you get hit in the face by a basketball? If not, make some adjustments. Trim the hems, wear practical shoes, and make sure you can see. If you are responsible for anyone else, make sure their costume also follows these guidelines.
Unfortunately, Halloween has one of the highest child pedestrian fatality rates of the year, and it’s pretty clear to see why. Children wear costumes that obscure their vision, cross the street at places other than formal crosswalks, and many of them are trick-or-treating right at dusk or soon after it gets dark. Statistics completely unrelated to Halloween show that most pedestrian fatalities occur between 6:00 and 9:00 PM, which is incidentally when most trick-or-treating also occurs.
If you are responsible for a child on Halloween make sure they follow proper safety precautions. Only use proper crosswalks when crossing the street, get your kid to stick some reflective stickers on their head or whatever portion of their body is the most visible, and make sure to never let them just run across the street. Risk being labeled the over-protective adult: it’s worth it if it keeps them safe on the highest-risk night of the year.
People poisoning or putting razor blades or needles in candy is pretty much unheard of. No one does that. But that doesn’t mean all the candy your kid gets is safe. Spoiled or tainted candy is a risk, but an avoidable risk.
Teach your kids how to recognize unsafe food. Also, teach them to bring anything they’re unsure of to you. The best way to avoid eating spoiled candy is to not to eat spoiled candy.
Stay Safe Out There
While it might seem fun to see an emergency department chock full of both real nurses and modified nurses (zombie, vampire, sexy, or otherwise), it’s honestly best to try and avoid it altogether. Keep safety in mind while you’re roaming the streets, and force safety onto those you are responsible for.
Go out, enjoy the night and the candy, and try not to need any medical attention!
A couple people in Ohia did find razor blades in their Halloween candy in Ohio this year, but there have been no cases of death by poisoned or razor-bladed candy. Still, keep an eye out and check your kid’s candy.