In the summer months, Inspira emergency rooms all across South Jersey see an uptick in patients complaining of symptoms commonly seen with both heat stroke and heat exhaustion. But knowing the difference between these two conditions can be the difference between life and death.
From creative costumes and parties to trick-or-treating and haunted hayrides, Halloween is fun for the whole family. And with some extra prep, the holiday can be as safe as it is fun.
“Halloween is always a fun time for families, but we must take steps to make this a safe holiday celebration. If your children trick-or-treat, safety with the candy they collect is a commonly discussed concern and there are others. Each year, children suffer injuries from sharp objects while carving pumpkins and burns from flammable Halloween costumes,” says Evelyn Balogun, medical director for Inspira Urgent Care. “Studies suggest that Halloween is the fourth-most common time of year for children to get holiday-related injuries which require medical intervention. As we celebrate this year, parents should be mindful about these risks.”
Dr. Balogun suggests telling kids to visit homes in your immediate neighborhood and wait until they get home before eating any candy. Adults should inspect the candy and remove any that isn’t in a totally sealed factory package free from slits/puncture. And, adults can help children to be mindful of allergies. Always err on the side of caution when examining pieces of candy.
Here are tips for avoiding some common, related Halloween hazards.
Choose Your Costume Wisely
Halloween costumes can be fun at any age. Children love to dress up as their favorite characters, while adults are known for their precision and humor when choosing a look. However, some parts of a Halloween costume could pose a health risk.
For example, almost all novelty contact lenses are unregulated, and many could cause damage to the eyes when applied. The risk of infection and scratches becomes even greater with long-term wear. Instead, choose a prescription contact lens or go for a more natural look. If children are going trick-or-treating, it’s also important to steer them to a costume where they will be able to see and breathe normally. And, children should have well fitted costumes with comfortable shoes so they can walk safely. Look for costumes and accessories with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant. Consider:
- Saving constricting masks or full-body suits for fun pictures at home
- Brighter costumes and adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags for greater visibility
- Non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternative to masks. Makeup should be tested ahead of time on a small patch of skin to ensure there are no unpleasant surprises on the big day.
Stay Alert When Trick-or-Treating
Trick-or-treating is a great way to get active with friends and neighbors in the pursuit of sweet treats. But with most trick-or-treating taking place after school, it may be dark before you’re heading home.
Remind your children and teens about the importance of traffic safety. Staying on the sidewalk and using crosswalks will keep them out of harm’s way and choosing well-lit roadways will ensure visibility.
Children should also be instructed on ways to get the help of an adult if they are separated from the group or feel uncomfortable. Trick-or-treating in familiar neighborhoods will help them navigate more easily.
If your child will not be with you when trick-or-treating and has a cell phone, review how to call 9-1-1.
Check Out the Candy Haul
It’s important to take a close look at that mountain of candy after trick-or-treating.
Inspect each piece for any evidence of tampering and be sure to remove anything that is unwrapped or open. Though tampering is rare, unsealed or unwrapped candies could be contaminated by mold or other germs.
Monitor Sugar Intake
Sugar does more than raise your child’s energy level. It can also contribute to obesity, tooth decay and delays in cognitive development. Though the occasional candy binge is unlikely to have lasting impacts on the average child, setting good habits will be helpful on their journey to long-term health.
Setting a daily limit on treats will keep them from having too much sugar.
Halloween is also a great time to talk about dental hygiene. Be sure to keep an eye on brushing habits, as sugary treats can wreak havoc on tooth enamel.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your health or to get in line at one of our 11 urgent care locations online or call 1-800-INSPIRA.