October 11, 2003
Methodist Rehabilitation Center offers 'spooktacular' tips to avoid Halloween dangers
By Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—As your little ghouls and goblins get ready for Halloween, take time to ensure that all the dangers of this fright-filled night are only make-believe, says Lauren Fairburn, coordinator of Think First, Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s statewide injury prevention program.
“We want parents, children and homeowners to do all they can to prevent any accidents on such a fun night for kids,” she said. And a good place to start is making sure your child’s costume is safe.
“Many children suffer from costume-related injuries on Halloween,” Fairburn said. “They get skin rashes from face paint, eye scratches and cuts from sharp objects on a mask or costume and burns from flammable costumes ignited by open flames from jack-o-lanterns.”
Falls also are a problem, Fairburn said, and are the leading cause of unintentional injuries on Halloween night. “You need to make sure costumes do not drag the ground so that your child won’t trip and fall,” Fairburn said. She also encourages parents to make sure that masks have mouth and nose openings and that eyeholes are large.
Homeowners should also exercise appropriate safety measures for Halloween.
“People should remove anything in their yard or driveways that could trip the trick-or-treaters,” said Jackie Moore, fire safety educator for the Jackson Fire Department. Moore encourages pet owners to secure their pets and to make sure all paper or cloth yard decorations are out of the way of flaming candles. Moore also recommends using battery powered jack-o-lantern candles instead of a real flame. “This eliminates any fire hazard, especially if you are not outside to watch the burning candles at all times,” adds Moore.
The Think First team also encourages trick-or-treaters to:
- Never trick-or-treat alone. Have at least 2 buddies go with you and an adult.
- Plan your entire route and make sure your family knows what it is.
- Make sure that you are wearing a flame-retardant costume that is age-appropriate.
- If trick-or-treating after dark, wear reflective tape to help make you visible to motorists and carry a flashlight.
- Wait until you get home and get your parents to check your candy before you eat it.
- Be very cautious of strangers and only accept treats only in the doorway. Never go inside a house.
- Don't play near lit jack-o-lanterns.
- Visit only houses where the lights are on.
- Walk on sidewalks and driveways. Do not run.
- Cross the street at the corner or in a crosswalk.
- Take a cellular phone with you if possible.
- Wear a watch you can read in the dark.
- Be sure and say thank you for your treats.
Think First is aimed at young children and teenagers and tries to prevent spinal cord, brain and other traumatic injuries by focusing on bicycle, automobile, firearm, boat, swimming and diving safety. For more information about Think First, Sammy Safety or to set up a Think First event at a Mississippi school, call Lauren Fairburn at 601-364-3451.