Halloween Safety Tips
Treat your little ones to a safe and sound Halloween this year.
Halloween originated from several customs, the earliest of
which dates back to Ireland in the fifth century B.C. As we know it today, the
Oct. 31 celebration is a fun way to dress up in sometimes scary costumes. But
experts warn that precautions are needed to ensure that disguises are the only
frightening things on All Hallows' Eve.
The No. 1 cause of injuries on Halloween night is accidental
falls from tripping over hems of costumes, steps, curbs, or unseen objects,
according to that National Safety Council. But even more startling is that four
times more children are killed annually in pedestrian/automobile accidents on
that holiday night than on any other night of the year, reports the CDC.
"The most important thing on Halloween is that children are
escorted and watched. They have a great potential of running from in front of
or behind a car," says Richard Douglas, a Lewisville, Texas Police
Department community relations officer. "We prefer that the young ones are
in from trick or treating before dark."
Indeed, the CDC reminds parents that the return from
daylight-saving to standard time lengthens the period of darkness and that a
number of other factors could put children in the path of a car. These include
their short stature, inability to react quickly enough to avoid a car or
evaluate a potential traffic threat, lack of impulse control, and distractions
because of shouts from other children, eye-catching costumes, and urges to
acquire the best candy.
"Children are so excited on that night that they aren't
using their normal safety sense," says Kerri Totty, a certified hand
therapist at Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital.
Totty deals with some of the injuries that children and their
parents may receive during the days leading up to Halloween as well as on the
holiday itself, such as cuts and burns related to turning a pumpkin into a
"We see a lot of kitchen knife injuries. These can be
devastating because of the structures in the hand," Totty tells WebMD.
These include tendons, nerves, and arteries. She says that major therapy is
required when the tendons and nerves are severed when a child or adult uses an
inappropriate knife or uses one incorrectly. Physical therapy to prevent
scarring from permanently disabling a hand can last for eight to 12 weeks.
"Usually these injuries happen because [people are] not
paying attention to what they're doing or they're cutting toward themselves, or
using the knife like an ice pick," Totty says, adding that knives should be
clean because the bacteria on it can cause a major infection in any cut.
For adults, the medical experts advise using sharp knives;
small children should just draw the jack-o'-lantern design on the outside of
the pumpkin with a marker and let someone older do the cutting. Youngsters who
are old enough could use knives intended for carving pumpkins.