Halloween is a fun time for children, but it can be an injury-prone holiday, too.
Each year, B.C. Children’s Hospital and the B.C. Ambulance Service attend to many preventable injuries involving cars and trick-or-treaters, burns from fireworks, falls, choking and cuts from pumpkin-carving.
This year, the agencies are partnering to provide tips for parents to keep little ghosts and goblins safe and happy this time of year.
“Kids are excited at Halloween. There is lots of nervous energy and lots of activities happening, so parents and kids can be easily distracted,” said Dr. Shelina Babul, associate director and sports injury specialist, at B.C. Children’s.
“It only takes a few seconds for an injury to occur, but by thinking ahead you can safeguard your kids and enjoy the day and evening.”
Babul also recommends that parents encourage older kids to pay particular attention when crossing roads or driveways while trick-or-treating.
“When kids are texting or listening to music, they may not see or hear a motorist on the road, a car backing out of a driveway, or any other potential hazard.”
The following tips are also offered:
n Be Seen – Parents and children should wear bright costumes or clothing made of flame-resistant material with reflective tape, or carry light sticks or a flashlight—it’s important that motorists can see you clearly. Make eye contact with motorists. Consider trick-or-treating in a group and staying together. Don’t forget to: stop, look left, right and left again—before crossing the street. Always cross the street at corners and crosswalks. If there isn’t a sidewalk, walk beside the road or street facing traffic.
n Can you see clearly? – Face painting is often a safer choice for trick-or-treaters than a mask which can obscure vision. Stay on sidewalks and driveways and off of lawns and gardens.
Go up one side of the street and down the other rather than crossing the street between houses. Avoid alleys, parking lots, wooded areas and vacant lots.
n Dress appropriately – To prevent falls, make sure your child’s costume fits well and it isn’t too long or has too much loose fabric. Dress for the weather, so your child and you are comfortable and warm.
n Adult supervision – Young children should always have a responsible adult escorting them door-to-door on Halloween night.
Skip past houses that don’t have their porch lights on, and avoid animals that are unfamiliar.
n Pumpkin carving – Kids under six years of age should not use knives or other sharp instruments to carve pumpkins. Instead, they can be creative and draw a face on the pumpkin, or dress it up with colourful fall leaves or other safe materials. Parents should use a flashlight or a light stick to light a pumpkin rather than a candle.
n Check treats – Parents and children should make sure that all treats are checked by an adult before eating.
Discard treats that aren’t in sealed packaging or look suspicious.
When in doubt, throw it out.
n Role model – Be a good role model for your children: act safely and responsibly this Halloween.