Each year, 4,400 trick-or-treaters across the country are taken to a hospital. Mark Papish, MD, Associate Medical Director of Emergency Medicine at MidHudson Regional Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth), shares strategies to minimize risk. First, remember that one-third of Halloween injuries involve lacerations from pumpkin-carving. “Using a children’s pumpkin-carving knife that is serrated, but not sharp, can mitigate this risk,” Dr. Papish says. “You can also have young children paint the pumpkin instead.”
Costumes should also be well thought out. “Make sure they are brightly colored, to ensure children can be seen by motorists. Also avoid costumes that are too long, overly bulky or restrict field of vision, as they are often the reason for injury,” he says.
Carry flashlights at night and ensure your house has a well-lit path to the candy dish, with uneven steps clearly marked. Because Halloween has become a “party holiday,” Dr. Papish says drunk-driving incidents have increased, so take precautions walking or crossing the street. And while poisoned candy is extremely rare, allergic reactions are not. Make sure children know what’s off-limits and review their stash before they dive in.
Most Halloween injuries occur in children 10 to 14 years old, the ages when kids tend to trick-or-treat with friends and without parents. “There’s no official age cutoff for parental supervision; however, the child’s previous patterns of behavior, and the peer group they are with, should allow you to make an informed decision,” Dr. Papish says. And finally, “No child should trick-or-treat alone.”
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