The thought of Halloween fills my head with mysterious haint tales and russet leaves blowing across a path, with the eerie sights of carved pumpkins glowing in a mist of flickering light. Halloween is filled with ghosts and goblins running amuck in search of tricks and treats. The fall air fills with sounds of mischievous giggles and laughter as they mix with the smell of scorching pumpkins on a cool, crisp night. Ooh, the magic of Halloween! Suddenly, giggles and laughter cease when a child lies motionless on the cold, dark pavement—the result of an accident caused by a Halloween distraction. Had I only changed one thing—giggles and laughter would still fill the night.
Halloween safety is a must and we all play an important role in keeping ghosts and goblins safe. Use the Halloween Lucky 13 steps to a safer and happier Halloween:
1). Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be short, soft, blunt, and flexible to prevent injury.
2). Costumes should be well fitted to avoid trips and falls. Masks should not block vision or impair hearing. Consider a cosmetic mask instead of a loose-fitting mask that could restrict breathing or vision. Always test make-up in a small area first for sensitivity and irritation. Remove all make-up before bedtime to prevent skin and eye irritations.
3). Make sure costumes are made of flame-resistant material and stay clear of lit candles and bulbs. Review the “Stop-Drop-Roll” technique in case clothes catch on fire.
4). Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see trick-or-treaters.
5). Carry a flashlight to aid your vision; the light will also help others to see you.
6). Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in small groups or with a trusted adult.
7). Walk on sidewalks or the far edge of the road, facing traffic.
8). Use designated crosswalks and look both ways before crossing. Avoid running out from between parked cars and driveways.
9). WALK—don’t run—from house to house; avoid running across lawns where ornaments or furniture may present unforeseen dangers.
10). Choose safe houses for trick-or-treating; children should not enter any home or apartment unless they are accompanied by a trusted adult.
11). Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats unless you know the cook well.
12). Warn children not to eat treats before an adult has carefully examined them for evidence of tampering and/or choking hazards. Limit the amount of treats that are eaten.
13). When possible, wear brightly colored costumes to increase visibility.
The 13 steps to a safer Halloween aren’t just for children. Adults face the same visibility hazards as children; therefore, as you head out to Halloween parties to enjoy the festivities, be sure to apply the same rules. Drivers, please slow down and look out for ghosts and goblins of all ages. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that children, ages 5 to 14, are four times more likely to sustain pedestrian injuries on Halloween between the hours of 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. than on any other night of the year.
Keep your eyes on the path ahead and your ears tuned to the giggles and laughter as you watch and listen to the traditions of Halloween. Enjoy the sights and smells of carved pumpkins while ghosts and goblins trick-or-treat. As quickly as a candle flickers in the night, Halloween’s distractions could end a life.
Because of the importance of this topic and an overwhelming positive response, this column is being repeated.
Howard Baker, RN BSN
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