With the arrival of Halloween, millions of children are getting ready to don their favorite costume and celebrate the spookiest day of the year by trick-or-treating.
While the holiday is supposed to be a time for fun and treats, every year some children are injured while out trick-or-treating.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns parents to take extra care during the Halloween season to keep youngsters safe.
They urge adults to focus on the three main reasons kids are mostly likely to end up in the hospital.
These are eye injuries, dangerous costumes that can be flammable, and injuries from car collisions.
To keep your favorite trick-or-treaters safe, here’s a few tips from experts.
Beware the toy swords
Children wielding swords, wands, or other sharp props can injure their eye or that of a friend if they’re not careful.
Dr. Grace Kim, a pediatric medicine specialistat UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, said it’s ideal “if the parents can avoid anything that’s really long or objects that have sharp points” in their kids’ costumes.
Additionally, Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency department physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, said both children and adults should avoid colored contact lenses unless they get them from a doctor.
The contacts are often popular on Halloween for enhancing a costume.
“You can get a corneal ulcer,” Glatter said about the colored contacts. “In general, we recommend people avoid them.”
Don’t forget sidewalk safety
Excited trick-or-treaters may forget to wait patiently at a crosswalk or wear a dark costume that’s difficult for motorists to see.
As a result, doctors advise parents to keep a close eye on young children on Halloween. Injuries from car collisions are one of the top three reasons kids end up in the hospital on Halloween, according to the AAP.
“Stick to sidewalks, cross at corners, and avoid darting from house to house,” AAP officials advise. “If there are no sidewalks, walk facing the traffic.”
Kim told Healthline that she also advises parents to take steps to make kids more visible to motorists, especially if they’re wearing a dark witch costume at night.
“It may help to carry a flashlight or have something on the costume that lights up,” she said.
As well, Kim advises parents to put kids in face paint instead of masks, which can limit their sight and make them more prone to tripping.
How Halloween costumes can be hazardous
Dressing up like your favorite superhero or cartoon can be fun, but beware the capes.
The AAP found that burns from flammable costumes are one of the top reasons children end up in the hospital on Halloween night.
Baggy costumes or ones that drag on the ground can be particularly easy to catch on fire, especially if they’re made of a flammable material.
“Candles and jack-o’-lanterns that glow on porches and walkways can ignite flammable costumes, especially baggy ones,” the AAP advises.
“You can just lean over on someone’s porch with the long sleeve” and get a burn injury from a jack-o’-lantern, Glatter said.
Additionally, Glatter said baggy costumes can be dangerous because kids can trip over the costume and fall. That fall can be dangerous if the child is crossing the street at the time.
Halloween hazards aren’t just limited to kids
Halloween safety isn’t just for kids.
Adults who take part in the festivities can be at risk for a few unusual injuries.
Glatter said they also see a lot of adults harmed from alcohol-related injuries, especially if they go to a pumpkin-carving party.
“A big thing we see is people who get injured from carving pumpkins… lots of lacerations,” he said.
Despite parents warning kids that they’ll get sick if they eat too much candy, a new U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report finds it’s adults who might be at greater risk from candy.
Today, FDA officials issued a warning for adults over the age of 40 who love black licorice.
They said that the candy has a sweetening compound called glycyrrhizin, which can affect potassium levels in the body.
Too much can result in these levels falling, which can lead in rare cases to “abnormal heart rhythms, as well as high blood pressure, edema (swelling), lethargy, and congestive heart failure,” according to the FDA.
But to be at risk, a person has to eat a lot of licorice.
In studies, it was people over 40 who ate 2 ounces of licorice every day for two weeks who appeared to be a risk for the worst side effects.