Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Keep your Halloween from Becoming a Nightmare

Keep your Halloween from Becoming a Nightmare

Halloween brings out the kid in all of us. But as innocent as it appears, there are health risks and dangers that can become a nightmare for you or your loved ones.

Freddy Kruger Uses Knives, Not Kids

Pumpkin carving brings back great Halloween memories. But Dr. John Griswold, Texas Tech Physicians—Surgery, says your jack-o-lantern can land you in the emergency room.

“Halloween is among the top three holidays producing the most ER visits with accidental lacerations and puncture wounds to the hands and fingers,” Griswold said. “There is a wrong way to carve a pumpkin. Pumpkins can be slippery and tough. In a second, a knife can slip and go through the skin and out the other side. People need to be aware of the damage that can be done if you do not take precautions.”
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons gives these tips to keep you and your family safe:
• Use specifically designed carving knives, rather than kitchen knives, as they are less likely to get stuck in the thick pumpkin skin. Carve the pumpkin in small, controlled strokes, away from yourself on a strong, sturdy surface.

• Keep knives dry. Any moisture on the tools, hands, or table can cause the knife to slip, leading to injuries.

• Children should never carve pumpkins.

• Using glow sticks or artificial lights can avoid burns or fire hazards when lighting jack-o-lantern candles.
“If you should cut a finger or hand, make sure the hand is elevated higher than your heart and apply direct pressure with a clean cloth to the wound to stop the bleeding,” Griswold said. “If it doesn’t slow or stop the bleeding after 15 minutes, an emergency room visit may be necessary.”

Keep the Young Goblins Safe

What child doesn’t look forward to finding the perfect costume and headed out to trick or treat? Latisha McLaurin, Texas Tech Physicians—Pediatrics, said parents should take time to plan for a safe holiday.

“Plan costumes that are bright, reflective and safe,” McLaurin said. “For example Batman is a fan favorite costume but it is very dark. Make your child more visible at night by adding reflective tape to their costume or use a treat bag that is reflective. It’s a race to get to the candy, so make sure costumes fit correctly in order for your child not to trip.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics also gives these tips for a safe and healthy Halloween.

• Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
• Teach children how to call 9-1-1 if they have an emergency or become lost.
• A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will keep them from filling up
on Halloween treats.
• Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, like
coloring books, pens and pencils.
• Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare,
a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
• Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.

The Eyes Have It

Dr. Kelly Mitchell, Texas Tech Physicians—Eye Clinic, said this time of the year ophthalmologists see eye injuries that can cause permanent eye damage.
“It is important to make sure that no part of your Halloween costume could potentially harm your vision,” Mitchell said. “There are numerous health concerns such as infections, damage to the eye and loss of vision all that can be prevented if you take precautions to make sure costumes are safe.”
Mitchell said follow these tips to keep your family’s eyes safe:
• Unless prescribed by a physician, stay away from costume or color contacts. If not used safely, contact lens use can lead to vision loss.
• Make sure your child’s eyesight or visibility is not impaired by masks or other parts of a costume
• Beware of sharp objects from a costume. Sharp points from swords, wands or other props can lead to eye damage if poked. Sharp, pointed props endanger your eyes as well as the eyes of others.
• Use only FDA approved make up around your eyes. Use hypoallergenic options and keep it away from the eyes. Some costume make up can cause infections if it gets in the eye.

Written by: Suzanna Cisneros