Keep the “Boo,” while Avoiding the “Boo-Boos” at Halloween
The Halloween season is filled with scary thrills and fun, but also potential danger. Pumpkin carving, costumes, unfamiliar homes, and young children traveling in darkness all provide possible scenarios for accidents and injuries. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) urges children and adults to take proper precautions to ensure a safe Halloween.
A nine-year study examined holiday-related pediatric emergency room visits between 1997 and 2006.( Results of the 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 percent 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.
Halloween Safety Tips:
- In general, children should not carve pumpkins. However, some Halloween carving devices, designed especially for children, may be safe for use with parental supervision. Children also can empty the seeds out of the pumpkin, or use a pumpkin decorating kit that does not involve pumpkin carving.
- Adults carving pumpkins should remember to use a pumpkin carving kit, or knives specifically designed for carving, as they are less likely to get stuck in the thick pumpkin skin.
- Always carve pumpkins in a clean, dry and well-lit area and make sure there is no moisture on the carving tools or your hands.
- 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, or if the cut is deep, an emergency room visit may be necessary.
- Be considerate of fire hazards when lighting jack-o-lantern candles or use non-flammable light sources, like glow sticks or artificial pumpkin lights.
- Costumes should be flame-resistant and fit properly. Be sure the child’s vision is unobstructed by masks, face paint or hats. Costumes that are too long may cause kids to trip and fall, so trim or hem them as necessary.
- Children should wear sturdy, comfortable, slip-resistant shoes to avoid falls.
- It is important that children walk on sidewalks and never cut across yards or driveways. They also should obey all traffic signals and remain in designated crosswalks when crossing the street.
- Trick-or-treaters should only approach houses that are well lit. Both children and parents should carry flashlights to see and be seen.
- Be aware of neighborhood dogs when trick-or-treating and remember that these pets can impose a threat when you approach their home.
- Also, it’s a good idea to carry a cell phone while trick-or-treating in case of an emergency.
“Every Halloween orthopaedic surgeons treat cuts, lacerations and injuries just from carving a pumpkin,” said Christopher Doumas, MD.
“It’s important to realize that there is a wrong way to do this, and for starters, children and adults should never use a kitchen knife. Use proper utensils, carve away from the body, and never rush when engaging in this popular fall activity.”