October 29, 2012

Take extra steps on Halloween to keep children safe, caution safety experts at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt


Halloween is an exciting time for parents and children, but it can also be one of the most dangerous nights of the year. Twice as many children are killed while walking on Halloween than on other days, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.

As children prepare for October’s fun-filled night of trick-or-treating, a few precautionary measures could prevent vehicle-related deaths and other injuries.

Most of the Halloween-related injuries that doctors and nurses see each year in the emergency room at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt are related to falls, said Thomas Abramo, M.D., director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine.

He said the emergency room experiences heightened activity on Halloween, with many children treated for lacerations, abrasions or broken bones.

“The types of injuries we tend to see are related to costumes that are not age appropriate,” said Abramo. “Parents should anticipate tripping if the child has a costume with a lot of appendages.”

Children should wear well-fitted costumes and shoes that are easy to walk in, he said.

Masks can also prevent children from seeing where they are going, especially younger children who haven’t fully developed depth perception. Face paints and cosmetics are recommended as a safe alternative.

To prevent vehicle-related pedestrian injuries, children should always walk, never run, and stick to the sidewalks. Parents should teach children to look both ways before crossing the street, use crosswalks and always travel in well-lit areas.

Children’s Hospital offers additional tips to keep children safe and injury-free:

  • Put reflective tape on costumes and bags to make them visible to drivers.
  • Make sure candy is age appropriate to avoid choking hazards.
  • Never let children younger than 10 trick-or-treat alone. Older children should travel in groups.

Homeowners can also help make Halloween safe:

  • Replace burned-out bulbs and turn on as many lights as possible to illuminate the yard and sidewalk.
  • Secure pets.
  • Give children a clear path to the door, free from pumpkins or other decorations they could trip over.
  • Clear the yard and sidewalk of anything children could trip over, like garden tools or fallen tree limbs.

For additional Halloween safety information, visit Children’s Hospital’s website or review Safe Kids USA’s safety tips.