Before parents and children head out for Halloween trick or treating, BC Ambulance Service (BCAS) and the specialists at BC Children’s Hospital have some safety tips for parents.
These safety tips are based on visits to BC Children’s Hospital Emergency Department and BCAS call data that shows on Halloween last year, between the hours of 4 and 9 pm, there was a significant increase in the number of ambulance calls for traffic incidents and burns compared to regular nights. Every year, BC Children’s and BC Ambulance Service treat many preventable injuries involving trick-or-treaters, such as falls from ill-fitting costumes, injuries from being struck by a car, burns from fireworks or cuts from pumpkin-carving.
The following tips can help parents and caregivers keep children safe this Halloween:
1. BE SEEN – Parents as well as children should wear bright costumes or clothing made of flame-resistant material with reflective tape, or carry light sticks or flashlights to ensure motorists can see them. Consider trick-or-treating in a group.
Don’t forget to stop, look left, right and left again – before crossing a street. Always cross the street at corners and crosswalks. If there isn’t a sidewalk, walk beside the road or street facing traffic.
2. DRESS APPROPRIATELY – To prevent falls, make sure your child’s costume fits well and isn’t too long or loose. Dress for the weather to ensure your child is comfortable and warm. A mask can obscure your vision; instead try make-up.
3. ADULT SUPERVISION – Young children should always have a responsible adult escorting them door-to-door on Halloween night. Skip past houses that don’t have lights on, or the walkway isn’t well-lit, and avoid unfamiliar animals.
4, PUMPKIN CARVING – Kids under six should not use knives or other sharp instruments to carve pumpkins. Instead they can express their creativity by drawing a face on a pumpkin or dressing it up with colourful fall leaves. Parents should use a flashlight or a light stick to illuminate a pumpkin rather than a candle, to reduce the risk of burns.
5. CHOKING – Choking occurs most frequently among children under two years of age, but choking can happen at any age. Do not give children under five popcorn, hard candy, or nuts. When eating candy, parents should have children sit at a table since eating while playing, jumping or talking can lead to choking. Information is available through HealthLink BC at www.healthlinkbc.ca/kb/content/special/chkng.html#aa111963.
6. FIREWORK SAFETY – To be safe, plan family fun and activities that don’t include fireworks. However, if you plan to use fireworks as part of your celebration, only purchase them from a reliable source and always read and follow label directions. Keep water or a fire extinguisher nearby when lighting fireworks.
7. SLOW DOWN AND WATCH FOR PEDESTRIANS – Motorists are advised to slow down and drive with extra caution this Halloween. BCAS notes that historically there is an increase in the number of traffic accidents on Halloween evening. Children are easily distracted and difficult to see because of their small size, particularly if they run into the street from between parked cars.
8. BE A GOOD HOST – As a homeowner, make sure the path to your front door is clear of any obstructions or sharp objects and well-lit to prevent trick-or-treaters from falling. Don’t leave pumpkins with burning candles close to where children may be trick-or-treating to prevent burns or costumes catching on fire.
9. ENJOY THE TREATS, BUT CHECK THEM FIRST – Always check the treats before your child eats them. Throw away any items with torn wrappers or holes in the wrapper. Wash and cut any fruit before eating.