Saturday 10 December 2016

Ten tips for parents to avoid 'Halloween horror stories'

Published 28/10/2016 | 13:30

Hidden dangers: A simple monkey nut could prove deadly to a child with an allergy Photo: Depositphotos
Hidden dangers: A simple monkey nut could prove deadly to a child with an allergy Photo: Depositphotos

While Halloween is a fun occasion, they are many tips that parents can follow to prevent any 'Halloween horror stories'.

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Medical officials are calling on trick-or-treaters to take care and avoid accidents.

According to VHI, each year they see a sharp increase in the number of injuries on Halloween night.

Almost half of the patients in emergency departments on Halloween are children under the age of 18 and the most common causes of injuries were falls, burns, cuts requiring a stitch and injuries to limbs and eyes.

Here are ten tips to stay safe this Halloween:

1. Make sure your child’s costume is made of flame-resistant materials

A spark from even the most well-organised bonfire or child’s sparkler can easily and quickly inflict a burn which could ultimately lead to a tragedy. Check whether they have the CE mark and the flame resistant label (EN-71-2) to show that the manufacturer is complying with safety standards.

2. Make it a family event and ensure that children are accompanied by an adult as they trick-or-treat

This can be tricky to manage as children get older however we’d advise parents to keep a watchful eye, even from a distance, to ensure there are no unwanted scares!  Routes should be planned before leaving the house so that everyone knows where they are going. Children should only visit homes they know and be reminded to never enter a stranger’s home.

3. Avoid costumes which might cause slips, trips and falls such as long capes, high heels, over-sized shoes or baggy trousers

It will be dark when most children trick or treat so poor visibility combined with hazardous costumes increases the likelihood of a nasty fall.

4. Using face paints can reduce issues caused by reduced visibility often found with wearing masks

However if you do use face paints, make sure you buy a reputable brand and do a patch test on your child to ensure they don’t have an allergic reaction.

5. Dark evenings and strange costumes can be a recipe for disaster so make sure to light your way by bringing plenty of torches with you 

Not only will this help light the way for trick-or-treaters but it will also increase their visibility to motorists.

6. Be traffic aware and make sure your child is too.  Trick or treaters should stay on the footpath and obey all traffic signals

Where possible we would advise parents to add reflective tape to costumes or buckets to ensure visibility and to encourage your children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing out in front on them. Parents and children alike should put their mobile phones away when on the street to avoid distractions. 

7. Make sure you check the sweets your child has collected before they are eaten

Choking is a very common hazard amongst children and they should be advised not to eat sweets on the move. We would recommend that parents remove sweets which aren’t wrapped in their original wrapper and that any marble sized sweets are not given to children. It is important as well that parents and carers know how to deal with a choking incident in the event that one should occur.

8. Be cautious of household pets when approaching houses and consider avoiding houses with dogs

Halloween is a traumatic time for most animals and the noise and excitement of fireworks combined with multiple, small callers to houses can be too much for many dogs.  Dog bites are very sore and traumatic for children.

9. Do not under any circumstances buy fireworks for your children or attend any fireworks displays that are not officially organised

Fireworks are illegal in Ireland and every year hospital A&E departments treat patients with devastating injuries caused by fireworks.  We would recommend complete avoidance this Halloween.

10. If driving on Halloween night, take extra care given the increased number of young pedestrians that will be out trick or treating

And... a list of steps should any accident occur:

Falls:

  •     Stay calm and don’t rush to get them to stand up.
  •     If someone cannot feel their arms / legs, has hit their head or lost consciousness call an ambulance immediately.
  •     If you have a severely broken bone i.e. a bone has broken through your skin you should go straight to your nearest Accident & Emergency Department.
  •     If you suspect you have a broken bone or have a sprain then you can either visit your local urgent care centre or your local Accident & Emergency Unit.
  •     In all instances where you suspect a sprain, strain or break you should remember to
  •     PRICE: P = protect the injury, R = rest it , I = apply ice, C = compress and stop bleeding or swelling, E = elevate the injured limb.

 Burns:

  •     Immediately run cold water over the affected area for 15-20 minutes.
  •     Cover the area with cling film or a clean cloth.
  •     Do NOT use ice, ice water or creams.
  •     All adults and children should be aware of the “STOP, DROP and ROLL” technique should the worst happen and their clothing catch fire.  By stopping, dropping to the ground (lying flat covering eyes and mouth) and then rolling around will allow the ground to suffocate the flames rather than burning your hand.
  •     If you are worried about the burn please seek medical attention from your GP, local urgent care clinic, or your local emergency department. 

Eye Injuries:

  •     Minor eye irritations can be treated by flushing the eye with sterile water.
  •     If you are in any doubt as to the severity of the injury or irritation, err on the side of caution and seek medical attention immediately. 

Serious / Deep Cuts:

  •     If you have a cut that is bleeding a lot, apply pressure firmly over the affected area with a clean cloth or towel.
  •     Seek medical attention if you cannot stop the bleeding after 5-10 minutes or if the edges of the wound are gaping apart.

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