Off-the-Job Safety: Halloween Safety Tips

Oct. 28, 2008
Trick-or-treating, dressing up and carving pumpkins are all part of the fun of Halloween, but these activities also offer potential for injury. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) suggests taking several steps to ensure that Halloween-goers remain safe.

“When children get excited about a holiday that involves candy, they may be less cautious than usual,” says orthopaedic surgeon Ronald Delanois, M.D., spokesperson for the AAOS and member of the Academy’s Leadership Fellows Program. “Also, Halloween tends to encourage unruly behavior, so parents and other caregivers need to be especially vigilant to ensure that kids follow basic safety guidelines whether they are pumpkin carving or trick-or-treating.”

Potential injuries could range from fractures, sprains, head trauma or dislocations caused from trips and falls in ill-fitting costumes to hand lacerations or injuries to bones and tendons while pumpkin carving.

AAOS offers the following tips to help ensure an injury-free Halloween:

Pumpkin Carving

  • When carving pumpkins, use specifically designed carving knives, not kitchen knives. Carving knives are less likely to get stuck in the thick pumpkin tissue. (Injuries can occur when a carver tries to yank the stuck knife out.)
  • Never let children carve pumpkins. 

  • Adults carving pumpkins should remember to always cut in small, controlled strokes, away from themselves.
  • Carving knives should be kept in a clean, dry, well-lit area. 

  • Any moisture on the tools, hands or table can cause the knife to slip, leading to injuries.
  • Should an individual cut a finger or hand while carving pumpkins, elevate the hand above the heart and apply direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth to stop the bleeding. 

  • If continuous pressure does not slow or stop the bleeding after 15 minutes, go to the emergency room.
  • Numbness in the fingers and or an inability to move the fingers after a cutting injury also warrants a trip to the emergency room.

Costumes

  • Halloween costumes should be light and bright, so children are clearly visible to motorists and other pedestrians. 

  • Trim costumes and bags with reflective tape.
  • Make sure children wear flame-resistant costumes that fit properly. 

  • Costumes that are too long may cause trips and falls.
  • Children should wear sturdy, comfortable and slip-resistant shoes. 

  • Masks and hats can impair a child’s vision, so secure hats well and consider using face makeup instead of masks.

Trick-or-Treating

  • When trick-or-treating, children should stay in familiar neighborhoods and be accompanied by an adult at all times. 

  • Children must walk on sidewalks and never cut across yards or driveways. 

  • They should also obey all traffic signals and remain in designated crosswalks when crossing the street.
  • Trick-or-treaters should only approach houses that are well lit.
  • Both children and parents should carry flashlights to see and be seen. 

  • Consider skipping the door-to-door trick-or-treating and attend a neighborhood Halloween party instead.
  • Examine all treats for tampering or other unsafe conditions before allowing the children to eat them.

More injury prevention information can be found at www.orthoinfo.org.

About the Author

Laura Walter

Laura Walter was formerly senior editor of EHS Today. She is a subject matter expert in EHS compliance and government issues and has covered a variety of topics relating to occupational safety and health. Her writing has earned awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE), the Trade Association Business Publications International (TABPI) and APEX Awards for Publication Excellence. Her debut novel, Body of Stars (Dutton) was published in 2021.

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