When we think about Halloween safety, we often consider how we can protect our children during trick-or-treating, but Halloween safety is not just for kids! Adults can and should plan to ensure safety for themselves and other adults as well.
The most common types of injuries we see around Halloween are fractures, burns and lacerations.
Many fractures during the holiday occur from falls. While decorating your home, be mindful of any obstacles in your yard that could cause yourself or others to trip and fall. Be sure to properly secure any extension cords, which can be hard to see in the dark.
When decorating your home or yard, avoid using open flames, and do not approach open flames at someone else’s home. LED candles are a great alternative to traditional candles and come in all shapes and sizes. If you’re decorating with string lights, be sure to inspect them for any frayed cords or broken bulbs as these can pose a fire hazard.
To decrease your risk of injury from trips and falls, select a costume that doesn’t drag on the ground, and avoid wearing a mask that obstructs your vision.
If someone falls and injures themselves, it’s important to determine whether they should go to an emergency room. Typically, minor cuts, scrapes, or bruises can be treated at home with ice packs to limit swelling and help relieve pain. Fractures and concussions should be treated by a medical professional and warrant a trip to the emergency department.
According to research at Medical University of South Carolina, more than 2,000 people a year are injured while carving pumpkins, with 87.6% of those injuries being cuts to the hand. When carving pumpkins, use safe carving kits or knives specifically designed for carving. Parents should always provide close supervision while carving pumpkins. Alternatively, consider having children paint or draw on pumpkins instead of carving them.
If a laceration does occur, first find the source of the bleeding and identify signs of “life-threatening” bleeding such as bleeding that spurts from a wound, soaks clothing or bandages or pools on the ground.
If the bleeding is life threatening or if you are having a hard time stopping the bleeding, call 911 immediately. If it is a minor injury, apply a clean bandage with firm, even pressure, and elevate the area.
Trick-or-treating typically starts in the evening and can last until after dark when drivers’ visibility is low. Adults who are attending parties or celebrations might also be walking on the streets at night, especially in high-traffic areas like downtown. Some of the most severe traffic injuries we see are auto-pedestrian accidents, and with increased pedestrian traffic on Halloween, drivers and pedestrians alike should be extra cautious.
As a driver, be aware of areas in which families may be trick-or-treating and adults may be drinking. Remove any distractions while driving including your phone or loud music. Do not drink and drive! Remember that buzzed driving is drunk driving.
As a pedestrian, be aware of any vehicle traffic in areas where you may be trick-or-treating or celebrating. Avoid costumes made of dark material, and consider fastening reflective tape to costumes and bags to increase visibility for drivers. Carrying flashlights or multiple glow sticks will also increase visibility. Small children should always be accompanied by a trusted adult, and older children should travel in groups.
Obey all traffic laws. Look both ways before crossing the street, and use crosswalks when available. Walk on the sidewalks, when possible; if there aren’t any sidewalks, walk along the far edge of the road facing traffic.
As you solidify your Halloween celebration plans, make sure you also have a Halloween safety plan to avoid a visit to the ER!
Payton Bowyer is the trauma injury prevention coordinator at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center.