Tricks and Tips for a Safe Halloween

Keep those little ghosts and goblins injury-free with these timely tips.

Carved pumpkins become bright jack-o'-lanterns.

Carved pumpkins become bright jack-o'-lanterns.

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Rosemont, Illinois –Trick-or-treating, wearing costumes, and carving pumpkins are all part of the Halloween fun for kids of all ages. However, many of these activities also offer potential for injury, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) suggests that Halloween-goers take the following steps to stay safe.

Potential injuries:

• Ill-fitting masks and costumes, as well as walking in unfamiliar areas in the dark, can lead to fractures, dislocations, sprains, contusions, abrasions and head trauma from trips and falls.

• Pumpkin-carving can result in serious lacerations to the hand and also injuries to bones and tendons, if certain precautions are not taken.

“When children get excited about a holiday that involves candy, they may be less cautious than usual,” says Charles Blitzer, an orthopaedic surgeon and spokesperson for the AAOS. “Also, Halloween tends to encourage unruly behavior, so parents and other caregivers need to be especially vigilant to ensure that kids follow basic safety guidelines whether they are pumpkin carving or trick-or-treating.”

The AAOS offers the following tips to help ensure an injury-free Halloween:

 

Pumpkin-carving

• When carving pumpkins, use specifically designed carving knives, no kitchen knives.

• Carving knives are less likely to get stuck in the thick pumpkin tissue. (Injuries can occur when a carver tries to yank the stuck knife out.)

• Never let children carve pumpkins.

• Adults carving pumpkins should remember to always cut in small, controlled strokes, away from themselves.

• 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.

• Should an individual cut a fingertip or hand while carving pumpkins, elevate the hand above 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.

• If there is any numbness in the fingers and or there is an inability to move the fingers, then the individual should go to the emergency room.

 

Costumes

• Halloween costumes should be light and bright, so children are clearly visible to motorists and other pedestrians.

• Trim costumes and bags with reflective tape.

• Make sure children wear flame-resistant costumes that fit properly.

• Costumes that are too long may cause kids to trip and fall.

• Children should wear sturdy, comfortable and slip-resistant shoes.

• Masks and hats can impair a child’s vision, so secure hats well and consider using face makeup instead of masks.

 

Trick-or-Treating

• When trick-or-treating, children should stay in familiar neighborhoods and be accompanied by an adult at all times.

• Children must 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.

• Trick-or-treaters should only approach houses that are well lit.

• Both children and parents should carry flashlights to see and be seen.

• Consider skipping the door-to-door trick-or-treating and attend a neighborhood Halloween party instead.

• Examine all treats for tampering or other unsafe conditions before allowing the children to eat them.

With more than 35,000 members, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is the premier not-for-profit organization that provides education programs for orthopaedic surgeons and allied health professionals, champions the interests of patients and advances the highest quality musculoskeletal health. Orthopaedic surgeons and the Academy are the authoritative sources of information for patients and the general public on musculoskeletal conditions, treatments and related issues. An advocate for improved patient care, the Academy is participating in the Bone and Joint Decade – the global initiative in the years 2002-2011 – to raise awareness of musculoskeletal health, stimulate research and improve people’s quality of life.