Whether it’s dressing up as their favorite character or the feeling of being spooked, Halloween is an exciting time for kids. UR Medicine pediatrician and American Academy of Pediatrics spokesperson Dr. Elizabeth Murray shares some important tips to keep them safe this Halloween.
Health Matters: For many kids, Halloween is all about dressing in costume and trick-or-treating. What can parents do the make sure kids’ costumes are safe?
Murray: Fit matters! Costumes shouldn’t be too big or too tight, Make sure they are the right size to prevent trips and falls, but to also allow for movement. Masks or wigs can limit kids’ vision. Be sure that holes in the masks are large enough for clear sight and that wigs can’t slip down over your child’s face. Kids also need to wear something reflective, whether it’s on the costume itself or on their trick-or-treat bag, so they’ll be seen by other trick-or-treaters and, most importantly, drivers.
Health Matters: Many older kids prefer to trick-or-treat with their friends. What can parents do to make sure they’re safe, too?
Murray: If your older children are going without adult supervision, plan out an acceptable route. Know who they’ll be with, have them carry a cell phone for quick communication, and set a curfew. Remind them to only visit homes with a porch light on and to never enter a home or car for candy.
Health Matters: There are a lot of people out on Halloween night. What advice do you have for keeping safe out on the trail?
Murray: Pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children Halloween night. To help avoid them, be sure that kids:
- Stay in a group and communicate where they’re headed
- Use flashlights
- Always use the sidewalk and stay on well-lit streets. If there isn’t a sidewalk, walk on the far edge of the road, facing traffic.
- Don’t assume the right of way.
Health Matters: How can those handing out candy do their part in keeping everyone safe?
Murray: Decorations are fun, but it’s best to remove anything that could be tripped over on Halloween night. Unless you aren’t handing out candy, your outside lights should be bright so the pathway to the door is clearly visible. Pets should be kept indoors so they don’t jump on or scare trick-or-treaters more than what’s anticipated on Halloween night.
Health Matters: Any other tips for parents regarding the holiday or fall season?
Murray: Every year, we see a few lacerations from pumpkin carving in the Pediatric Emergency Department. I recommend that younger kids paint or draw on the pumpkin first and let a parent take over when it comes to the carving. Kids can take more of a role in the carving by helping to scoop out the inside contents of the pumpkin—so it can be more of a team effort. (Please note: Pumpkin seeds are hard to chew and can be a choking hazard for small children.)
Elizabeth Murray, D.O., is a pediatric emergency medicine specialist at UR Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital and also serves patients in the hospital’s REACH Clinic at Bivona Child Advocacy Center.