Halloween hazards put partygoers and trick-or-treaters at risk for suffering serious injuries or death. A night of spooky fun and revelry, adults and children alike often go to costume parties, take to the streets to trick or treat, partake in sweet treats, carve and light up pumpkins, and otherwise engage in activities celebrating the holiday. Unfortunately, seemingly harmless Halloween activities send many people to emergency rooms and urgent care clinics each year.
Common Dangers for Trick-or-Treaters
Costumes, candies, and other end-of-October traditions can pose serious health risks. Although a little scare can be fun when enjoying the holiday, Halloween celebrations may be marred by injuries or deaths resulting from hazards such as pedestrian accidents, food allergies, fires, dangerous costumes and makeup, choking hazards, and alcohol-related illnesses.
As the streets of Las vegas become flooded with pedestrians, accidents involving motor vehicles and trick-or-treaters are all too common on Halloween. According to the National Safety Council, children’s risk of getting struck and killed by a motor vehicle is twice as great on October 31st as it is on the other 364 days of the year. Kids between the ages of 4 and 8 are at the highest risk, and most deaths occur around 6 p.m. when more drivers are rushing home from work. Parents can help keep their children safe by accompanying younger kids while they trick or treat and educating older children on the need to watch out for vehicles at all times. Wearing brightly colored costumes, carrying a flashlight, or adding reflective materials to costuming may also help prevent serious or fatal pedestrian accidents on Halloween.
With various candies and treats available on the holiday, children may have allergic reactions ranging from mild to severe. Whether trick-or-treating, attending a party, or engaging in other Halloween festivities, children often come into contact with all types of unfamiliar treats when celebrating the end of October. Unfortunately, even if they have a known food allergy, children or their parents may not realize these untried snacks contain peanuts, soy, milk, or other such allergens. People can help keep their children safe by asking about ingredients before accepting any treats and inspecting all their candy before letting them eat any. Parents of kids with severe food allergies may look for houses with teal pumpkins when trick-or-treating as they may offer food allergy-safe alternative treats.
Festive decorations, including jack-o-lanterns, are classic symbols of the Halloween holiday. They also pose a serious fire risk. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that fires cause $13 million in property damage, 41 injuries, and one death each year. To help prevent such accidents, people are advised to swap out their traditional candles for battery-operated ones or glow sticks. People should also keep in mind that other decorations, including cornstalks and dried flowers, can easily catch fire and should, therefore, be kept away from open flames, lights, and other heat sources.
Costumes and Makeup
Hallmarks of Halloween, costumes, and makeup pose a host of risks such as struck-by-vehicle accidents, trips and falls, or catching fire. Playing into the theme of the holiday, many children and adults opt for scary costumes that are darkly colored. Additionally, they may also wear hats, masks, or face paint, which can obstruct their vision. To help prevent slip, trip, or fall accidents on Halloween, people should make sure costumes fit properly. If purchasing costumes from the store, it is a good idea to check the tags to ensure they are flame resistant.
For some, Halloween makeup may cause a serious skin reaction. Children or adults may wear makeup that they have never used before to enhance their Halloween costumes. Should they have an allergy to the makeup, they may experience a rash, swelling, redness, or other such signs of irritation. Thus, testing a small amount on the arm before applying any makeup may help people test to ensure it is safe.
Alcohol-Related Illnesses and Accidents
Alcohol is a common guest at Halloween parties and other festivities. Unfortunately, it also contributes to many serious injuries and illnesses on October 31st each year. A hangover is not the only potential adverse effect of binge drinking on Halloween. Consuming alcohol in excessive amounts may lead to alcohol poisoning, a serious condition that can result in choking, asphyxiation, severe dehydration, seizures, hypothermia, an irregular heartbeat, brain damage, or even death. While it is generally okay for adults of legal drinking age to consume alcohol on Halloween, they should do so responsibly and in moderation.
Drinking alcohol also causes significant impairments such as slowed reaction times and reduced coordination, which may put drivers, their passengers, trick-or-treaters, and others at risk on Halloween. Therefore, if they plan to drink, people are advised to arrange for alternative transportation.