In preparation for Halloween, pediatrician Sarah Polistico, M.D., with Northwest Medical Group offers several tips to take the scary out of Halloween this year.
“Every October, thousands of people are injured decorating for the holiday or walking around the neighborhood searching for candy, “said Dr. Polistico. “Though Halloween can be spooky or creepy, we need to plan ahead and be mindful to ensure nothing truly scary happens and all of our children remain safe.”
Tip 1: Grown-ups do the carving. In 2021, the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that 48% of all Halloween-related injuries are associated with carving jack-o’-lanterns. Providers often see cuts or punctures to hands, arms and fingers -- especially among children 10 to 14. The most common injury is to the index finger, and when punctured, that can cause damage to the tendons, nerves and arteries. Because pumpkins can be slick and tough to cut, kids under 14 should stick to drawing on the faces and
scooping out the pulp and seeds. Adults should cut pumpkins with tools made especially for pumpkin carving in a clean, dry area. In addition, save cutting the top off for last, so you aren’t tempted to place your hand inside your jack-o’-lantern while carving its crooked smile.
Tip 2: Make sure costumes are safe. Trips and falls are a big problem on Halloween. In fact, 27% of injuries on this holiday are due to falls hanging decorations, tripping on costumes or walking. To make sure your little witches and ghosts are safe, make sure that costume hems aren’t dragging on the ground and masks aren’t blocking their vision.
Tip 3: Light the way. Turn on outdoor lights to keep trick-or-treaters from stumbling over steps or lawn decorations. And if you’re walking the neighborhood with your children, make sure you can see the path, and oncoming cars can see you and your children. Ways to do that include adding reflective tape to costumes and carrying flashlights.
Tip 4: Avoid pedestrian injury. Trick-or-treaters should walk in groups and, if possible, stay on sidewalks or at the far edge of the street facing oncoming traffic. If you need to cross the street, only do so at crosswalks or intersections rather than through yards, alleys or from between parked cars. Remind children never to enter a stranger’s home or car.
Tip 5: Read the makeup ingredients. While makeup provides better visibility than a mask, make sure to test it ahead of time. Place a small amount on the person’s arm and check for any allergic reactions,such as swelling, redness or itching. Verify that the makeup you’re using is FDA-approved, as some makeup can irritate the eyes. In addition, metals like arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead can be toxic to children.
Tip 6: Check the candy. Feed the family a snack before heading out and remind your children not to eat any candy until it has been inspected at home. This not only lets you check for tampering or unwrapped candy, but you can also make sure there are no products that your kids are allergic to or pose a potential choking hazard. If you are worried about allergens while handing out candy, consider alternatives like bubbles, spider rings, crayons or crunchy, pre-wrapped snacks.
“Hopefully, with these tips, pretending to be scared when your kids yell, ‘Boo!’ is as frightening as it will get,” adds Dr. Polistico.
To learn more about Dr. Polistico and Northwest Medical Group – Pediatrics, visit NWMedicalGroup.com.