Pumpkin patches are open, mums are on display on porches across the nation, and kids everywhere are planning their Halloween costumes. Halloween is an exciting time. Not only does it give families a chance to binge on candy and make-believe; it also marks the start of the holiday season. Many kids already have well-developed holiday wish lists by the end of October.
Amid all the Halloween excitement, it’s easy to lose sight of safety issues. Accidental injuries—car accidents, head injuries, falls, and other incidents—are the leading cause of death among children. Now’s the time to prepare for these potentially lethal emergencies and to educate the community your agency serves on prevention strategies. Here are the five leading causes of Halloween injuries.
Food, coins, and toys are the leading causes of choking among young children and tiny objects are available in abundance on Halloween. Children may eat candy with small pieces. Babies may get access to older siblings’ candy. And poorly made Halloween favors with small parts may break. Parents should be mindful of the risk of choking on Halloween candy and treats, especially candy containing nuts, popcorn, or other small parts. They should also prevent children from putting toys in their mouths and work overtime to keep the floor clear of any debris that could be a choking hazard.
Very young children may be exposed to an allergen such as peanuts for the first time at Halloween. Older children may forget about their allergies, and distracted parents might not notice nuts and other allergens in their kids’ candy. Children trying new foods should be carefully monitored for signs of an allergic reaction. Children with known allergies should always have an EpiPen handy.
Tiny objects, sharp costume swords, and roughhousing with friends all conspire to endanger kids’ eyes. Kids who opt to paint their faces or color their hair can also suffer eye injuries due to chemical burns when they get hairspray or face paint into their eyes.
Eye injuries can be catastrophic and extremely painful. They’re also preventable. Parents should choose eye-friendly cosmetics for their children’s costumes, discourage children from playing with pointy objects, and interrupt horseplay when kids begin pointing things at each others’ faces.
Car Accidents and Pedestrian Injuries
Car crashes are by far the leading cause of injury-related death in children. Reckless and distracted driving, often fueled by the excitement of Halloween or alcohol, are typical culprits in adolescents. Among younger children, pedestrian injuries are common. Children may mistakenly believe that cars will yield to them, or that drivers will be more careful during Halloween. But quick turns, low lighting, and distraction can endanger kids as they trick-or-treat. Parents must closely supervise, ensure their children are visible to motorists, and instruct children to always assume that a driver does not see them.
More than 4.5 million people are bitten annually by dogs. Children are the most common victims, and are more likely to sustain severe and life-threatening injuries. Many people take their dogs trick-or-treating. The stress of frequent visits by strangers can trigger aggression in otherwise friendly dogs, and exacerbate it in dogs with a history of aggression.
Dogs should never be trusted alone with children, and strange dogs should always be viewed as a potential threat. Even friendly dogs may be frightened by children in costumes, causing them to bite. Urge the community to ensure all dogs are leashed and to instruct children not to pet strange dogs—even if the owner says it’s OK. Not all dog owners are responsible owners, and some may say that their dogs are friendly, even if the dog has a history of aggressive behavior.
The right equipment is critical to preventing an emergency from becoming a tragedy. Many childhood injuries involve airway obstructions. To promptly treat an injury, you need portable suction so that you can go to the patient, rather than risk moving a patient with an airway obstruction. For help choosing the right portable suction machine for your agency, download our free guide, The Ultimate Guide to Purchasing a Portable Emergency Suction Machine.