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Tips on Staying Safe This Halloween

Halloween is the spookiest time of year, but no parent wants to experience an actual scare on the holiday.

One rising Halloween concern certain parents are facing is candy that can trigger a food allergy. According to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), one in 13 children is affected by food allergies, and the holiday can be an especially difficult time for them.

“Many traditional Halloween treats can be dangerous for children with life-threatening food allergies,” said Michael Mitchell, M.D., pediatric emergency medicine physician at Brenner Children’s Hospital, part of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “It’s imperative for parents to stay alert and conscious of what their children are given and what they consume.”

For a trick-free night, Mitchell offers these safety tips:

Food Allergy Risk:

  • Halloween candies often contain nuts, milk, egg, soy or wheat—some of the most common allergens in children.
  • Many miniature or fun-size versions of candy products can contain different ingredients than their full-size counterparts and the packaging of these smaller items may not list the ingredients
  • Non-food treats such as bubbles, stickers and crayons provide safe yet fun alternatives for children with food allergies.

Parents of children that do not suffer from food allergies should still monitor their child’s candy consumption—large amounts of candy and sweet treats can result in abdominal pain, Mitchell says.

Another safety concern over the Halloween holiday is pedestrian-related injuries. On averagethe number of pedestrian-related fatalities among children significantly increases on Halloween compared to any other night of the year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Halloween results in many children being on the street after dark, and they are so excited that they may run out into the street without thinking,” Mitchell said. “Certain costumes also may impair vision, further increasing the danger of pedestrian related injuries.”

On the Trick-or-Treat Trail:

  • Children should have costumes that are bright and reflective or have reflective tape or striping on costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Chaperones and children should have a flashlight with fresh batteries.
  • Shoes should fit well and costumes should be short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flames.

While the average age of injury for other major holidays is under 5, the age group at greatest risk on Halloween is 10 to 14, which could be due to this age group receiving less adult supervision, according to Mitchell and the Journal of Pediatrics.

“We certainly want children to enjoy Halloween, but enjoy it in a safe manner and without a visit to the emergency department,” Mitchell said. “These simple tips can help ensure a safe Halloween for children of all ages.”

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Last Updated: 10-27-2016
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