It’s hard to believe, but October has arrived and autumn is officially underway - and that means we’re officially counting down to one of the year’s most beloved holidays: Halloween. Halloween is certainly notorious for not being the healthiest of holidays. In America alone, we purchase nearly 600 million pounds of candy just for Halloween! But our sweet tooth is just the beginning of the list of things to remember when it comes to health and safety on this spooky holiday.
About 4,400 people in the United States visited emergency rooms in 2013 for Halloween-related injuries. The reasons for these accidents included burns, lacerations and cuts, and fall-related injuries - all things that shouldn’t be part of a fun night out! So as you begin to decorate and prepare for this year’s night of trick-or-treating, we recommend taking the following steps to make your holiday plans a little healthier and a little safer this month:
Shop for safe Halloween costumes. Whether you plan on buying a complete costume or you’re crafting a look that’s all your own, it’s important to plan ahead to ensure that your Halloween look won’t accidentally land you - or your children - in the hospital. A safe Halloween costume will be well fitted - not too tight, but not too loose - and will not drag on the ground; by picking an outfit that fits, you’ll reduce your risk of tripping or falling. Additionally, any masks and hats you wear should be secure enough that they don’t obstruct your - or your child’s - field of vision. And accessories such as swords or knives should be made of soft, flexible material, just to be safe. Most importantly, always check that the fabrics you use are flame resistant!
Carve with care. Making a jack-o’-lantern is a classic October tradition - but carving a pumpkin can be extremely difficult, and mishandling the sharp knives and tools used for carving can create a recipe for disaster. To reduce your risk of dealing with a carving-related injury, it’s worth investing in specific tools that are designed just for pumpkin carving, as they’re much safer than a standard sharp kitchen knife. And always carve on a solid surface, to minimize the risk of injury due to a moving or rolling pumpkin!
Lighting makes a difference. Our first instinct when decorating for Halloween is to go for as spooky a look as possible. Unfortunately, in creating a creepy porch it’s easy to forget that the excited children who will be trick-or-treating need to be able to safely navigate their way up and down your steps and to your door. To ensure that no one is hurt on their night of candy hunting, be sure to set up decorations that will keep your house well-lit, and always double check that your lights and their cords will not create a tripping hazard for visitors!
Make sure your decorations are secure as well as spooky. If you love to set up props that hang and dangle from your house, porch, windows, or otherwise, it’s extremely important to make sure these decorations are securely and safely set up. This means ensuring that they don’t block entrances or exits; checking that they don’t create a hazard for anyone who may walk into them accidentally; and, of course, always making sure that any items set up outside will not create any problems for trick-or-treaters. A smart set-up will minimize risks like these and will even include a path through your decor just for trick-or-treating guests. Additionally, if your set-up requires wires for any reason, you should always use duct tape to tape these potential trip-hazards to the ground!
Consider skipping the candles. While flickering candles are a classic image associated with Halloween, they are also a fire hazard. Excited children in costume could easily knock down your candles later this month, which could quickly result in a dangerous blaze. Or, the long fabric of a child’s costume could also ignite if it’s exposed to flames. Instead of candles, try buying glow sticks from a party supply or discount store. Once set inside a jack-o’-lantern, glow sticks cast an eerie glow - much like candles - without posing a fire hazard. Or, if you’d rather by something reusable, consider looking for fake battery-operated candles.
Always follow the directions! Anything that you buy - from Halloween lights to carving tools to fog machines - should come with a complete set of directions. While many of us love to discard these directions and go rogue, it’s important to follow any directions you receive with your holiday gear this Halloween. Doing so will ensure that you don’t make a risky and unsafe mistake, such as accidentally using indoor lights outside - which can be dangerous, particularly in wet weather.
Halloween is a joyous night for many parents and children alike. By taking steps to map out your decorations and costume ideas now, you’ll be able to work during the next 30 days to make the holiday all the more joyous, safe, and healthy for family, friends, and local children alike. So be sure to keep our tips in mind as you begin to prepare for a wonderful All Hallows' Eve!