Important Safety Tips and Guidelines for Halloween
Synopsis: Hints and tips provided by authoritative sources including U.S. FDA, Consumer Product Safety Commission, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to enjoy a safe Halloween.1
Author: Disabled World Contact: www.disabled-world.com
Bad costume choices including decorative contact lenses, flammable costumes, and face paint allergies can haunt you long after Halloween if they cause injury.
Should a pumpkin carver cut a finger or hand, make sure the hand is elevated higher than the heart and apply direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth to stop the bleeding.
Whether you're goblin or ghoul, vampire or witch, poor costume choices including decorative contact lenses, flammable costumes, and face paint allergies can haunt you long after Halloween if they cause injury.
Every Halloween, kids across the country parade neighborhoods in search of the most glorious prize: candy. The build-up for Halloween is almost as exciting as the day itself with pre-Halloween festivities like pumpkin-picking, pumpkin carving and selecting the perfect costume for the big day.
Parents know how dangerous Halloween can be for kids. From spiked Halloween candy, costumes that block vision or movement, predators, and teenage pranks, keeping your child safe is the top priority to make it a safe day.
A nine-year study examined holiday-related pediatric emergency room visits between 1997 and 2006. Results of this study show Halloween among the top three holidays producing the most ER visits:
- Finger/hand injuries accounted for the greatest proportion of injuries on Halloween (17.6 percent).
- Of the finger/hand injuries sustained on Halloween, 33.3% were lacerations and 20.1 percent were fractures.
- Children ages 10-14 sustained the greatest proportion of injuries (30.3 percent).
Source: D'Ippolito A, Collins CL, Comstock RD. Epidemiology of pediatric holiday-related injuries presenting to US emergency departments. Pediatrics. 2010 May; 125(5):931-7.
Orange Halloween pumpkins with faces painted on them.
Safety Tips to Enjoy a Safe and Happy Halloween
Eating sweet treats is also a big part of the fun on Halloween. If you're trick-or-treating, health and safety experts say you should remember these tips:
- A good alternative to "Trick or Treating" is for parents to organize parties at home or through the child's school.
- Accompany young children to the door of every house they approach. Stay within sight of the door when opened.
- All costumes and masks should be clearly marked as flame resistant.
- Be aware of neighborhood dogs when trick-or-treating and remember that these pets can impose a threat when you approach their home.
- Be considerate of fire hazards when lighting jack-o-lantern candles or use non-flammable light sources, like glow sticks or artificial pumpkin lights. Alternatively, try painting pumpkins for a fun, creative option and remove the risks of carving.
- Before bobbing for apples - a favorite Halloween game - reduce the amount of bacteria that might be on apples by thoroughly rinsing them under cool running water. As an added precaution, use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.
- Carving knives should be kept in a clean, dry, well-lit area. Any moisture on the tools, hands, or table can cause the knife to slip, leading to injuries.
- Check FDA's list of color additives to see if makeup additives are FDA approved. If they aren't approved for their intended use, don't use it.
- Children should be cautioned never to approach any vehicle, occupied or not, unless they know the owner and are accompanied by a parent.
- Children should be cautioned never to enter any home without prior permission from their parents.
- Children should be cautioned to remember any suspicious incidents and report them to their parents, a trusted adult, or the police.
- Children should be cautioned to run away immediately from people who try to lure them with special treats.
- Children should be instructed to scream and make a scene if anyone tries to grab them or force them, in any way, to go with them.
- Children should be warned to never approach any house that isn't well lit and that does not have a porch light on.
- Children should wear sturdy, comfortable, slip-resistant shoes to avoid falls.
- Costumes should be flame-resistant and fit properly. Be sure the child's vision is unobstructed from masks, face paint or hats. Costumes that are too long may cause kids to trip and fall, trim or hem their costumes as necessary.
- Don't eat candy until it has been inspected at home.
- Don't let children go "Trick or Treating" alone. Be sure older children use the BUDDY SYSTEM. An adult should accompany young children.
- Don't wear decorative contact lenses unless you have seen an eye care professional and gotten a proper lens fitting and instructions for using the lenses.
- Halloween costumes should be light and bright, so children are clearly visible to motorists and other pedestrians. Trim costumes and bags with reflective tape that glows in the dark.
- If your child has a food allergy, check the label to ensure the allergen isn't present. Tell children not to accept - or eat - anything that isn't commercially wrapped.
- Inspect commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.
- It is important that children walk on sidewalks and never cut across yards or driveways. They should also obey all traffic signals and remain in designated crosswalks when crossing the street.
- It's also a good idea to carry a cell phone while trick-or-treating in case of an emergency.
- Look for the warning label to avoid juice that hasn't been pasteurized or otherwise processed, especially packaged juice products that may have been made on site. When in doubt, ask! Always ask if you are unsure if a juice product is pasteurized or not. Normally, the juice found in your grocer's frozen food case, refrigerated section, or on the shelf in boxes, bottles, or cans is pasteurized.
- Make sure that all children carry a glow stick or flashlight and wear reflective clothing.
- Never let children carve pumpkins. Adults carving pumpkins should remember to use specifically designed carving knives, rather than kitchen knives, as they are less likely to get stuck in the thick pumpkin skin. Carve the pumpkin in small, controlled strokes, away from oneself on a strong, sturdy surface. It is so important to realize that there is a wrong way to carve a pumpkin! You should always use a carving knife, carve away from the body and never rush. It's possible to cut tendons, particularly when your finger slides down the knife and the knife gets stuck in the pumpkin. For this reason, children and adults should not carve pumpkins with kitchen knives. Besides the potential dangers from pumpkin carving, parents and kids need to be aware of their surroundings, and instinctively participate in activities safely, no matter the holiday.
- Parents of very young children should remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, or small toys.
- Parents should be familiar with every house, and with all people from which the children receive treats.
- Parents should inspect all treats and dispose of anything that has been opened or has never been wrapped. The police should be notified if something has been tampered with.
- Should a pumpkin carver cut a finger or hand, make sure the hand is elevated higher than the heart and apply direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth to stop the bleeding. If continuous pressure does not slow or stop the bleeding after 15 minutes, an emergency room visit may be necessary. Additionally, it may be wise to follow up with a hand surgeon to make sure everything is okay and nothing needs repair.
- Test the makeup you plan to use by putting a small amount on the arm of the person who will be wearing it a couple of days in advance. If a rash, redness, swelling, or other signs of irritation develop where the makeup was applied, that's a sign of a possible allergy.
- Trick-or-treaters should eat a snack before heading out, so they won't be tempted to nibble on treats that haven't been inspected.
- Trick-or-treaters should only approach houses that are well lit. Both children and parents should carry flashlights to see and be seen.
- Wear bright, reflective costumes or add strips of reflective tape so you'll be more visible; make sure the costumes aren't so long that you're in danger of tripping.
- Wear costumes made of fire-retardant materials; look for "flame resistant" on the label. If you make your costume, use flame-resistant fabrics such as polyester or nylon.
- Wear makeup and hats rather than masks that can obscure your vision.
- When using face-masks, make sure the child can see and breathe properly and easily.
FDA joins eye care professionals - including the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, the Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists and the American Optometric Association - in discouraging consumers from using illegal decorative (colored) contact lenses. These are contact lenses that have not been approved by FDA for safety and effectiveness. Consumers should only use brand name contact lenses from well-known contact lens companies.
If you have never worn contact lenses before, Halloween should not be the first time you wear them. Experts warn that buying any kind of contact lenses - which are medical devices and regulated as such - without an examination and a prescription from an eye care professional can cause serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss. Despite the fact that it's illegal to sell decorative contact lenses without a valid prescription, FDA says the lenses are sold on the Internet and in retail shops and salons - particularly around Halloween.
The decorative lenses make the wearer's eyes appear to glow in the dark, create the illusion of vertical "cat eyes," or change the wearer's eye color.
"Although unauthorized use of decorative contact lenses is a concern year-round, Halloween is the time when people may be inclined to use them, perhaps as costume accessories," says FDA eye expert Bernard Lepri, O.D., M.S., M.Ed.. "What troubles us is when they are bought and used without a valid prescription, without the involvement of a qualified eye care professional, or without appropriate follow-up care. This can lead to significant risks of eye injuries, including blindness."
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