Nurse urges Halloween safety
Posted: Monday, October 27, 2008 9:12 pm
NASHVILLE — Halloween conjures up visions of scary, gruesome and ghastly ghouls and goblins.
But if parents don’t take the proper precautions, registered nurse Shannon Alley said those words also can describe the injuries she sees each year in the Emergency Department at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
She said falls are the leading cause of injury on Halloween.
“We see everything from abrasions and lacerations to broken bones and closed-head injuries because of falls,” she said. “The falls are usually related to poorly fitting costumes and masks that impede vision.”
To prevent dangerous falls, children should wear shoes that fit properly and are easy to walk in, and costumes should not fall below the ankle.
Alley said children younger than 11 haven’t fully developed accurate depth perception, and wearing a mask further impedes their vision. Instead of masks, children should apply face paint or cosmetics.
Homeowners can also do their part to make Halloween night safer for children and prevent falls:
• Replace burned-out bulbs and turn on as many lights as possible to illuminate the yard and sidewalk.
• Clear the yard and sidewalk of anything children could trip over, like garden tools or fallen tree limbs.
• Secure pets.
• Give children a clear path to the door, free from pumpkins or other decorations they could trip over.
The most serious injuries on Halloween are caused when children are struck by motor vehicles, Alley said. A study by the Centers for Disease Control found that childhood pedestrian deaths increased fourfold on Halloween night.
“Children crossing roads to get to friends or running to each house to get their treats, as well as being distracted by interesting costumes and surroundings — all these things put children at risk of unexpectedly appearing in front of a moving car and being struck suddenly,” Alley said.
Children should always walk, never run, and stick to the sidewalks instead of cutting across roads or yards. Teach children to look both ways before crossing the street and to use established crosswalks.
It’s also important that trick-or-treaters be visible to keep them from being hit by a car. Attach reflective tape to costumes and treat bags, give children a flashlight with fresh batteries, and have them travel in well-lit areas.
Alley said no child should trick-or-treat alone. Children younger than age 10 should be accompanied by an adult and older children should travel in groups.
Locally, many churches will offer safe and supervised alternative activities for children and youth on Friday night.