Have fun, stay safe at Halloween
No one wants an evening of trick or treating to end up with a visit to A&E, so members of our health visiting and school nursing teams are sharing simple, practical tips to help your family prepare for and stay safe during Halloween.
“We want everyone to have a spooktacular time not a horrible fright, so it’s helpful just to be aware of things that might pose a risk, particularly to children”, says health visiting clinical lead Vicki Oliver. “For instance, did you know that some fancy-dress costumes are not made to the same safety standards as children’s clothing so can be more flammable, and that some face paints contain ingredients that could cause an allergic reaction?.”
Rather than having a Halloween horror story, the Care Trust asks parents to take care with pumpkins, candles, costumes, and when out trick or treating. Their top tips for a safe and Happy Halloween include:
Everyone knows knives are sharp, so keep little fingers well away when carving your Halloween pumpkin, or why not get creative with a no-carve alternative? Paint a face on your pumpkin, using the stem as a witch’s nose and fabric for hair – there are lots more ideas online.
If you have a carved pumpkin, an LED/flameless battery powered candle inside is just as effective as a candle and much safer. Be sure the battery compartment is secure and store spare button batteries out of reach, as they can badly hurt or kill a small child if swallowed.
Fabulously painted faces make Halloween fun, but some face paints are toxic and can cause allergic reactions. Read the label and try to buy make up or paints that are organic or made with natural pigments from fruits, vegetables and flowers.
Don’t double dip! Avoid using last year’s face paint if you applied it using your fingers – it may now be full of bacteria, which can cause infections if applied where there’s a nick in the skin. Also be aware that masks and adhesives for false nails and eyelashes can all cause a reaction in a child who has allergies to ingredients such as metal and latex.
Fancy dress costumes can ignite and burn faster than normal clothing – so it’s extremely important to keep children away from candles or open fires. When buying a child’s fancy dress costume, try to buy from a reputable store or website and check for a UKCA or CE mark. These labels don’t mean a costume won’t catch fire, but the garment should burn more slowly.
Encourage children to wear clothes under their costume so there’s a layer of protection between the costume and their skin, to help protect skin, should the costume catch fire.
Practice a ‘stop, drop and roll game’ ahead of Halloween to help save the day if the worst happens. Children’s instinct is to run if their clothes catch fire, learning to stop, drop to the ground, cover their face with their hands and roll over several times will help to put out flames.
Halloween sweets may be a delicious treat, but lollipops, hard sweets and mini eggs, as well as grapes and raisins, can pose a serious choking risk for small children. Avoiding eating whilst walking or running also helps to prevent choking.
Children with allergies can join in the fun too! Keep them safe by making up small bags of treats you know they can enjoy and dropping them off with your neighbours ahead of time. Allergy UK has a useful More Treats No Tricks guide for parents of children with allergies.
Be visible when out trick or treating after dark – add reflective tape to Halloween costumes, wear glow jewellery or carry fluorescent glow sticks – these all make children more visible to drivers.
Kim Henderson, the Care Trust’s School Nursing clinical lead says: “We don’t want to stop anyone having fun, but sparing just a few moments to read our tips might save you hours of time and worry in A&E.”
Visit the safety section of our website here for more top tips on a wide variety of safety issues at home or out and about.