An estimated 41 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 will hit the trick-or-treat trails this Halloween. Emergency physicians want all of them to enjoy the holiday traditions safely and not experience any Halloween horrors that would include spending time in the emergency department.
“Children should be out having fun with family and friends, collecting candy and showing off their costumes,” said Dr. Michael Gerardi, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “Even though we are prepared to see them, they should not have to spend Halloween or any other night in the ER because of an injury that could have been prevented.”
On average, twice as many children are hit and killed by cars between the hours of 4pm and 10pm on Halloween compared to the same timeframe on any other day of the year, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.
Other common Halloween injuries include eye injuries from sharp objects and burns from flammable costumes.
Emergency physicians recommend that children “trick-or-treat” at organized Halloween festivities, such as local churches, shopping malls or schools. This way children are not walking in the dark and it allows constant adult supervision.
In addition, ACEP suggests that adults follow these tips for a safe and fun Halloween:
- All children should be accompanied or supervised by parents or other responsible adults to reinforce all of the safety tips outlined
- Make sure your child stays on the sidewalks as much as possible (off streets) and obeys all traffic signals.
- Discuss the importance of staying together in a group. Require at least one adult to serve as chaperone during trick-or-treat gatherings.
- Make sure your child knows the potential dangers from strangers. Make sure they know never to accept rides from strangers or visit unfamiliar homes or areas.
- Avoid costumes that could cause children to trip, such as baggy pants, long hems, high heels and oversized shoes.
- Avoid costumes that obstruct the child’s sight or vision.
- Avoid masks if possible. If your child must wear one, make sure it is well ventilated.
- Make sure costume fabric, wigs and beards area made of flame-resistant materials, such as nylon or polyester.
- Keep candlelit Jack-O-Lanterns away from children so they can’t get burned or set on fire.
- Make sure costumes are visible at night: avoid dark colors. Add reflective tape to costumes so your child is more visible to motor vehicles.
- Make sure you see all of the candy before your child eats it. Avoid candy that is not wrapped in its original wrapper, as well as all fruit.
- Stay in well-lit, familiar neighborhoods, if possible.
- Take a flashlight while trick-or-treating as visibility decreases long before it gets really dark.
- Check accessories such as swords, knives, wands and other pointed objects. Make sure they are made from flexible materials and have dulled edges.
For more information on what you need to know before heading to the emergency department, please visit www.EmergencyCareForYou.org
ACEP is the national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.