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Last updateWed, 27 Mar 2019 1pm

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Tread carefully this Halloween

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Dressing-up and gorging on candy are just two of the many reasons why Americans enjoy Halloween.

But before roaming your neighborhood in your most frightful costume, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA) urge you to stay alert to potential injury-causing dangers that loom while trick-or-treating.

Research from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System shows that during 2007-2015:

  • Halloween was the holiday with the fifth highest number of emergency room visits among children 18 and younger behind Labor Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Easter.
  • Head injuries accounted for the greatest proportion of injuries on Halloween (17.6 percent)
  • Of the finger/hand injuries sustained, 23.6 percent were lacerations.
  • Children under age 5 (28.8 percent) and children ages 10-14 (28.5 percent) sustained the greatest proportion of injuries.

"Sometimes safety is the last thing on the agenda when having fun," said Joshua Matthew Abzug, MD, a pediatric orthopaedic hand surgeon at the University of Maryland Children's Hospital and an AAOS spokesperson. "Before hitting the streets, parents should educate themselves and their children on the dos and don'ts to ensure safety while trick-or-treating. For example, they should watch out for vehicles, distracted walkers, poorly lit houses and other dangers."

SAFETY TIPS
The AAOS and POSNA offer the following trick-or-treating safety tips:

  • Walk on sidewalks and never cut across yards or driveways. Obey all traffic signals and remain in designated crosswalks when crossing the street.
  • Costumes should be flame-resistant and fit properly. The child's vision should be unobstructed by masks, face paint or hats. Costumes that are too long may cause kids to trip and fall, so trim or hem them as necessary.
  • Bright-colored costumes make it easier for children to be seen at dusk or in the dark. Add reflective tape to costumes and treat bags to provide additional visibility.
  • Wear sturdy, comfortable, slip-resistant shoes to avoid falls.
  • Trick-or-treaters should only approach houses that are well-lit.
  • Both children and parents should carry flashlights to see and be seen. Do not point your flashlight above chest level to avoid obstructing the vision of other trick-or-treaters.
  • Be aware of neighborhood dogs when trick-or-treating, and remember that pets can impose a threat when you approach their homes.
  • Carry a cell phone while trick-or-treating in case of an emergency.
  • Children should always be supervised by an adult.
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