Halloween is great fun for kids. Pumpkin carving, costumes, trick-or-treating, and candy–what’s not to love? When participating in Halloween festivities, we often forget that there is a risk of injury. According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), Halloween was fifth-highest in emergency room visits on a holiday among children from 2007-2013. Don’t let injuries get in the way of Halloween fun. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA) have put together some great safety tips for Halloween.
Carving Pumpkins Safely
With the sharp knives required for pumpkin carving, it’s no wonder that pumpkin carving has a high risk of injury. For this reason, you should never let your child carve a pumpkin without adult supervision, and should always use tools specifically designed for carving pumpkins. Even with adult supervision, pumpkin carving tools may not be suitable for younger children, but that doesn’t mean they have to be left out. You can let younger children help with scooping out the inside of the pumpkin, or let them use a pumpkin decorating kit that doesn’t require any cutting. Parents Magazine has some great DIY pumpkin decorating ideas that don’t require carving.
If you do let your child carve a pumpkin, make sure the area is well lit and both the pumpkin and the carving tools are dry. Candles can be a fire hazard; place glow sticks or pumpkin lights inside the pumpkin instead. Even under adult supervision, accidents do happen sometimes. If anyone cuts him or herself, elevate the wounded area higher than the heart and apply continuous pressure to the cut with a clean cloth. If bleeding doesn’t stop within 15 minutes, it’s best to go to the emergency room for help.
Costume Safety Tips
Costumes often aren’t sized as accurately as regular clothing, or may be only be available as one-size-fits-all. It’s important to make sure the costume isn’t too long so your child isn’t tripping while trick-or-treating. In many cases, you can simply trim the length of the costume, or hem it to shorten the length if necessary. Brightly-colored costumes make it easier to be seen after dark, but if your child is set on a dark-colored costume, try reflective tape and glow sticks to increase visibility in the dark.
Try using Halloween makeup whenever possible to avoid masks, which often obstruct a child’s vision. Make sure your child’s shoes are sturdy and slip-resistant to avoid falls. If your child insists on shoes that “go with” the costume, you can often buy shoe covers that go over the top of shoes to give the look of a different shoe, while still allowing the child to wear slip-resistant shoes.
When trick-or-treating, you should always remember safety. Stay on the sidewalk, and don’t cut across yards. This can be a tripping hazard, particularly after dark, if you’re cutting across a yard you aren’t familiar with. If there is no sidewalk to walk on, stay to the side as much as possible, and be aware of any cars that may be passing. If you’re trick-or-treating after dark, you’ll also want to bring a flashlight to help you see.
Young children under the age of 12 should be accompanied by an adult, even if you are familiar with the neighborhood. If you let your older children go trick-or-treating on their own, remind them not to approach dark houses, and not to enter the homes of anyone they don’t know in order to get treats. Even if your child is old enough to go without an adult, make sure he or she goes in groups with other children. Whether you are with your children or they are going on their own, make sure to have a cell phone handy for any emergencies.
Have fun, but remember that safety comes first. I wish you all a happy and safe Halloween, with more treats than tricks!