Candy, costumes, and trick-or-treating are all standard Halloween fun, but Indiana University Health West Hospital and Riley Hospital for Children warn that the holiday festivities could result in injury or worse if parents, motorists, and children are not careful.
According to Safe Kids USA, twice as many children are killed while walking on Halloween than any other day of the year.
The danger lies in darting children. While they may see a car, that doesn’t mean the driver sees them. That’s why IU Health encourages drivers to slow down — particularly around driveways and alleys — and to keep an eye out for children.
Children should look both ways before crossing the street, cross only at intersections, stick to sidewalks, and avoid yards.
“Most of our emergency patients on Halloween suffer from fall-related injuries during trick-or-treat excitement when children run from house to house to get candy,” Dr. Megan Crittendon, medical director of the emergency department at IU Health West Hospital, said in a press release. “Kids trip over their costumes, lawn decorations and each other, of course.”
As a rule, IU Health discourages long or baggy costumes and recommends they be made of flame-resistant materials, such as nylon or polyester. It’s not uncommon for children’s costumes to catch fire from lit jack-o’-lanterns.
While some safety tips are more common sense, doctors encourage parents to be on the lookout for the unexpected.
“Occasionally we see more serious injuries, stemming from Halloween parties, people falling off of tractors on hayrides or bonfire-related burns,” Crittendon said.
Other tips for an all treats, no tricks Halloween include:
• Neighborhoods should consider hosting Halloween parties for children and teens to keep them in a safer environment;
• Trick-or-treat in the early evening hours and only approach houses with a porch light on;
• Do not enter houses of people you do not know;
• Pin a slip of paper with your child’s name, address and phone number inside their pocket in case they get separated from the group;
• Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and choose light-colored costumes for better visibility;
• Choose face paint and makeup instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision;
• Children should avoid carrying sticks, swords or other sharp objects;
• Children should carry glow sticks or flashlights in order to see better and be seen by others;
• Parents whose children suffer from peanut allergies should ensure candy does not contain peanuts and should also carry an epinephrine auto-injector, such as an EpiPen; and
• Inspect all candy for signs of tampering before children eat it. Candy should be thrown away if the wrapper is faded or torn, or if the candy is unwrapped.