It’s Halloween, and that means kids will be out and about after dark for trick-or-treating. It is important to pay attention to costumes, traffic and candy to avoid an injury or illness.
Keep Halloween fun and safe with these tips from our experts at the Elvis Presley Trauma Center and Firefighters Burn Center.
Halloween may be a night of frights – but those thrills and chills are meant to be all in fun.
“One of the most celebrated holidays is right around the corner…Halloween!” said Geretta Hollins, Community Outreach and Injury Prevention Program Coordinator for Burn and Trauma Services. “You can dress up as your favorite hero or villain and eat candy non-stop! But before you head out trick-or-treating, take a look at these helpful tips to keep you safe.”
Start by checking to make sure costumes don’t pose a hazard.
Make sure the label states the costume is flame resistant, Hollins cautioned. “If you make your own costume, use flame resistant fabrics such as polyester or nylon,” she said.
If your costume includes a mask, make sure it doesn’t block your vision. Wearing makeup and a hat instead of a mask is a good way to be sure you’ll have a clear line of sight, Hollins said.
Before you head out the door, check that your costume can be seen in the dark. If it doesn’t have bright colors or reflective fabric, add strips of reflective tape to make it more visible. It’s also a good idea to carry a flashlight or glow sticks, Hollins said.
Once you have your costume ready, take care to navigate your trick-or-treat route safely. It gets dark early this time of year, so kids will be walking around when visibility isn’t the best.
Young kids should have an adult with them when they trick-or-treat, Hollins said.
Make sure everyone in the group sticks to sidewalks, crosses only at crosswalks, and makes eye contact with drivers before passing in front of a car.
If you’re sending older kids out on their own, make sure they know and follow those same rules. Give them a specific time to be home, tell them to stick to nearby and familiar neighborhoods, and make sure at least one person in the group has a phone so you can be in touch if necessary.
If you’re driving on Halloween, be extra alert for pedestrians – including young ones who may be impulsive or forget how to stay safe! Hollins said to drive slower than usual, avoid using your phone or other distractions, and be prepared to stop.
Finally, be careful about enjoying your candy safely.
“Eat a snack before heading out to avoid the temptation of nibbling on a treat before it’s been inspected – candy should always be inspected at home before you eat it,” Hollins said. “Also, if you have a food allergy, you’ll want to check the label to ensure the allergen isn’t present.”
With that in mind, stick to store-bought, factory-sealed products.
“Tell kids not to accept or eat anything that isn’t commercial wrapped,” Hollins said. “It’s much harder to check for allergens. You can also inspect commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.”
If your children are very young, you also need to think about choking hazards.
Gum, peanuts, hard candies and even small toys can be a choking risk – Hollins said it’s best to remove them from Halloween bags to avoid problems.
The Elvis Presley Trauma Center is the only Level-1 Trauma Center in a 150-mile radius of Memphis. A multispecialty team of experts is available 24/7 to treat the most critically injured patients from Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, and parts of Missouri.
Regional One Health’s Firefighters Burn Center is the only full-service burn center in a 400-mile radius of Memphis that is verified by the American Burn Association. It provides comprehensive services including emergency and critical care, intensive care, specialized burn rehabilitation, and laser and plastic surgery.