Do you worry about your kid’s safety on Halloween in Maryland?
You actually should!
But not for all the “scary” reasons we’ve heard: poison candy, razor blades, sex offenders. The REAL safety issue that we need to watch for are the injuries!
Halloween is the holiday with the 4th highest number of ER visits and kids of all ages are at risk.
But kids ages 10-14 are particularly at risk and make up 33% of those injuries.
So what are the biggest risks? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the most common reasons why kids visit the hospital on Halloween are:
- Car accidents involving pedestrians
- Eye injuries
In fact, the number of fatal pedestrian accidents doubles on Halloween and is the “deadliest day of the year” for child pedestrian fatalities.
What About Poisoned Candy?
The poison candy story has taken on truly mythical status for Halloween. Snopes.com has an astonishing list of nearly every poisoning story you may have heard of and then the “what actually happened”.
Snopes states, “Police have never documented actual cases of people randomly distributing poisoned goodies to children on Halloween.”
On a side note, the poison candy myth seems to have started in 1974 when an 8 year old died after eating a cyanide-poisoned pixie stick. Sadly, the perpetrator was actually his father who tried to cover up the murder by trying to make it look like the work of a random madman.
Unlike Halloween poisonings, cases of tampered candy involving the insertion of pins, needles, or razor blades have been documented – but it is very, very rare.
Since 1959, only 80 cases were reported and 70 of those were hoaxes. Only 10 cases since 1959 and they all caused only minor injury (the worst being a woman who need stitches).
The American Academy of Pediatricians warn, “Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.”
A Smithsonian article about this topic humorously stated, “Any adult giving out unwrapped candy, spoiled food, or any fruit at all for that matter, should already be suspect!
The Real Halloween Safety Concerns:
Cars, Eye Injuries, Burns and Fractures
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that Halloween is consistently one of the top three days for pedestrian injuries and fatalities. In addition, NHTSA reported that 48% of all motor vehicle crash fatalities on Halloween night in 2012 involved a drunk driver.
NSC (National Safety Council) research revealed the reasons for pedestrian deaths and injuries varied by age. Darting or running into the road accounted for about 70 percent of pedestrian deaths or injuries and the most at risk group is ages 12-18 year olds (most are unsupervised).
Dr. Michael Freedman of Evolve Direct Primary Care, warns his patients, “For Halloween, focus on keeping kids safe from cars. Make sure they are easily visible, stay on sidewalks and use crosswalks. Remember that masks reduce visibility so look 3 times before crossing the street!”
Review these key pedestrian safety rules with your kids:
- Always crossing at street corners,
- Using traffic signals and crosswalks
- Looking left-right-left when crossing
- Keep eye contact with drivers you pass in front of to make sure they see you
- Watching out for cars backing out of driveways.
- Don’t forget to stress not to TEXT while walking!
For younger kids, Evolve advised parents to put reflective tape on costumes or have their child carry an item that glows or reflects car lights. They also urged parents to accompany kids younger than 12 on trick-or-treat rounds.
Halloween Safety: Cuts and Fractures
Finger and hand injuries are the most frequent kind of injuries, 33% of which are cuts and 20% are fractures.
Pumpkin carving makes up over 50% of the hand laceration injuries and falls from long and ill fitting costumes make up most of the fractures.
What about Adults and Young Adults
A study of college students concluded that Halloween was one of the 3 heaviest drinking days of the year. “When people dress up in unusual costumes and step out of their normal lives, they may feel that it is then OK to experiment with drugs and alcohol.”
Decorative, or cosmetic, contact lenses are supposed to be approved by FDA but most are not! The majority of cosmetic lenses sold are non approved. These are often found online or at beauty supply stores, salons, convenience stores, tattoo parlors, and mall kiosks. These contacts can be associated with problems ranging from irritated red eyes to abrasions and even very serious infections.
Eggings Potentially Fatal?
A 2010 article in the New York Times reported that Halloween eggings are common and often violent. “Some [people who] confront egg-throwers, have been murdered. Some who have been hit with eggs have chased the culprits and killed them. Some who have thrown eggs have died trying to get away. The seemingly harmless prank of a tossed egg has been perceived as a kind of ultimate insult, the sudden splatter and mess touching off a rage in people.
Another study in London of 13 persons with eye injuries resulting from a thrown egg classified 8 of the injuries as major, with half of those resulting in severe or permanent problems.
Many cities have adopted policies banning known sex offenders from Halloween events. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network even offers a Halloween safety tip sheet. However, an analysis of National Incident-Based Reporting System crime report data found no increased incident rate around Halloween and no change at all after these policies became popular.
Halloween is a big night for calls to the poison control center at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Dogs dogs will eat chocolate–even though it can cause vomiting, diarrhea and even seizures and death. Left alone with a pillowcase full of candy, they might get in trouble.
Raisins and the artificial sweetener xylitol can also sicken dogs. So it’s best to keep all sorts of human treats stashed away.
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