Health & Medicine

Make sure your Halloween is a treat by taking safety precautions

Dr. Benjamin Rambicure
Dr. Benjamin Rambicure

With Halloween just around the corner, you can soon expect ghosts and goblins in your neighborhood. It’s estimated that 160 million Americans will celebrate the holiday this year, whether it’s trick-or-treating or attending Halloween parties and activities.

However, as kids are knocking on doors looking for candy, it’s important to make sure they take safety precautions, ensuring that the holiday is a treat, rather than a scare for the entire family.

In 2011, more than 3,500 Halloween-related injuries were reported by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. On average, Halloween is the holiday with the fourth highest number of emergency room visits.

Common dangers include hand and finger injuries, burns from costumes catching fire, and pedestrian accidents. Twice as many kids are killed while walking on Halloween than any other day of the year.

To avoid being hit by a car, children should wear something reflective on their costume or bags. Parents might also want them to carry items like glow sticks and flashlights to help drivers better see kids walking from house to house. Masks should be removed when crossing the street to improve peripheral vision.

While children are encouraged to be safe by using crosswalks, drivers are also urged to be overly cautious, slowing down in neighborhoods on Halloween, or avoiding driving during trick-or-treat hours.

Costume safety is also key on Halloween to avoid accidents. Falling onto an outstretched hand is the most common way people injure or fracture the forearm or wrist, which unfortunately is more likely to happen when kids are running in costumes while carrying totes with candy.

To avoid these injuries, parents should hem or pin costumes so they are not tripping hazards. Carrying a flashlight and removing masks while crossing the street can also help prevent children from falling. To prevent burns, check that your child’s costume is labeled as flame resistant, as many kids accidentally brush against candles in jack-o’-lanterns as they trick-or-treat.

While carving pumpkins can be a fun Halloween tradition for many families, it is important to take steps to avoid serious hand injuries. Adults are encouraged to do the carving, allowing kids to participate by drawing the pattern on the pumpkin or cleaning out the seeds.

Avoid placing your hand on the other side of the pumpkin that you are cutting into, and if the knife gets stuck, make sure your hand isn’t in the way as you are removing the knife.

Kids with diabetes can also still have a Happy Halloween if parents carefully manage how much candy they eat. Most kids can indulge in some sweets. However, treats must be balanced with extra insulin, and the carbohydrate count must be carefully watched to help prevent a spike in blood sugar levels. Ensure your child also has plenty of non-sugary goodies for Halloween treats.

Halloween-related accident and injuries are preventable. By taking precautions, you can ensure the holiday is a fun time for the entire family.

Dr. Benjamin Rambicure is in Family Medicine with KentuckyOne Health Primary Care Associates.