Halloween occurs every October 31st, and, for many, it is their favorite time of the year. Who doesn’t love the nostalgic fun of the spooky season? Not to mention all the candy! However, Halloween also brings some serious safety concerns, and it’s crucial for people of all ages to remain safe during this popular holiday season. Parents are concerned for their children’s safety while trick-or-treating, eating candy, and carving pumpkins, but adults are not in the clear, either. Numerous hazards are responsible for causing injuries during the Halloween season.
This article will outline some critical ways for individuals to stay safe during Halloween festivities and provide some personal protective equipment (PPE) ideas you might want to consider wearing. We don’t want to ruin anyone’s holiday spirit; we only want to remind everyone of the need to be cautious about the frightening hazards that injure people every Halloween.
What Is Halloween?
When you celebrate Halloween, you’re essentially traveling back to festivities practiced by ancient cultures. Halloween’s origins date to over 2,000 years ago, during the ancient Celtic celebration of Samhain. November 1st indicated the end of summer, the time of harvest, and the start of the dark, cold months associated with human mortality. Celts believed that October 31st was the day a year when the boundary between the living world and the deceased world was disrupted and ghosts returned to earth. To ward off these spirits that were believed to cause trouble and damage crops, the Celts would wear costumes and light bonfires, which is how Halloween night gets its spooky recognition.
The ghosts of Rome still touch our lives to this very day.
The celebration or recognition of Halloween has evolved over the centuries. When the Romans eventually defeated the Celts and occupied modern-day Ireland, they blended their October festivities with those of the Celts. As these rituals gave way to Christian ones, the focus shifted to a celebration of saints. Pope Gregory III designated November 1st as a day to celebrate all saints in the eighth century. Once again, customs and rituals merged, and All Saints’ Day adopted many of the Samhain rituals recognized across most U.S neighborhoods today: trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, themed parties, wearing costumes, and eating candy. The name Halloween stems from the Middle English name for All Saints’ Day, Alholowmesse, and the night before, All-Hallows Eve, became Halloween.
Injury Safety Facts
From October to November 2018, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that emergency rooms in the United States treated more than 4,500 Halloween-related injuries. The most significant percentage of injuries resulted from pumpkin carving, but other seasonal injuries that were treated include:
· Pumpkin Carving – accounted for 44% of all injuries in this period
· General Cuts, Lacerations, and Costumes – made up 27% of all injuries
· Slips and Falls – accounted for 25% of all injuries. These were reportedly caused by:
o Falling while putting up or taking down decorations
o Tripping on ill-fitting costumes while trick-or-treating
· Allergic Reactions – made up 4% of all injuries and were typically rashes appearing from food or environmental elements
As we mentioned, Halloween can be hazardous. In addition to the injuries outlined above, here are some other areas where injuries are common:
- Burns from candle flames or bonfires
- Eye injuries from getting poked or foreign objects, such as glitter, entering the eye
- Bodily injuries from sharp costume props, such as swords
In the United States, from 2017 to 2019, approximately 9,200 fires were reported to fire departments during the three days surrounding Halloween. These fires are believed to have resulted in an annual average of 25 fatalities, 100 injuries, and $117 million in property damage.
The peak time for fires is from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Many like to incorporate fire or flames into their Halloween décor or use candles to light up jack-o-lanterns. The primary problem with burning flames is that they can quickly catch costumes on fire, especially ones with flowy or extruding pieces. Those who understand FR clothing know it’s made with unique properties that allow it to self-extinguish. Costumes are often not made of such material, so you must be extremely careful around open flames. If possible, try to use flashlights or battery-operated flameless candles instead of an actual fire.
Pumpkin Carving Hazards
The spookiest night of the year is also one on which many people wind up in an emergency room. As mentioned above, the most significant cause of Halloween-related injuries occurs during pumpkin carving when using sharp knives.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) recommends parents teach kids safety tips before carving activities commence. Be sure to carve pumpkins in a clean, dry, well-lit area without moisture on your hands or carving equipment. Let small children use spoons to scoop out the pumpkin’s insides and leave the carving for the adults. The AAOS also stresses the need to use a pumpkin carving kit or blades suited for the activity. To avoid cut-risks from pumpkin carving altogether, consider painting your pumpkins, dazzling them with glitter, wrapping them in gauze or fabric, or gluing them on a face or decorations.
WebMD highlights that if a cut does occur while carving, apply pressure with a fresh cloth and raise the injured area higher than the heart. Wounded areas should be sterilized appropriately, and bandages applied. You’ll want to immediately head to the emergency room if the bleeding does not stop within 10-15 minutes.
Driving and Traffic Accidents
The hazards we’ve already discussed are concerning; however, distracted driving is a serious issue and a common cause of accidents on Halloween. Safety Kids Worldwide says kids are twice as likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than on any other day. Insufficient lighting, failure to follow pedestrian safety guidelines, and children wearing dark costumes contribute to these incidents.
Unfortunately, Halloween night also has an elevated risk of pedestrian and vehicular accidents due to drunk or impaired driving. Halloween is known for its festive parties, just as in ancient Celtic days. During these festivities, adults will often drink alcohol, and some will drink a little too much. Those who choose to drive drunk will often drive carelessly, causing concern for other motorists and anyone walking near roads. Countless reports of pedestrian and vehicular accidents are associated with drunk driving each year.
Safety Tips for Parents
Most kids love Halloween, and sometimes their excitement overwhelms their common sense regarding safety. Below are some helpful tips to consider before sending your children out on Halloween night:
- Dress kids in flame-resistant FR costumes not made from nylon or polyester.
- Fasten reflective tape or stickers to children’s bags and choose light colors wherever possible.
- Have kids go trick-or-treating in small groups and, when possible, carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers.
- Make sure costumes fit well; avoid oversized clothing or costumes that could be a tripping hazard, or that could get too close to open flames.
- Do a trial run with any makeup that kids may use as part of their costume; test for potential allergic reactions or irritation by applying it to a small section of skin first.
- Remind children that they should never enter a stranger’s vehicle or residence for any reason.
- Most importantly, accompany any kids under the age of 12.
And, for adults, remember to watch for children walking on curbs and roadways, especially those who may be concealed because of dark clothing.
Eating candy is a significant element of Halloween fun! If food safety is important to you, here are some things to keep in mind before enjoying the fruits of your (or your children’s) trick-or-treating labor:
- Do not consume candy before scrutinizing it at home.
- Consume food before leaving the house to avoid the temptation of eating a snack before it has been inspected.
- Parents of little children should eliminate choking hazards, such as gum, peanuts, hard sweets, and small toys.
- Examine commercially-packaged products for signs of tampering, such as an abnormal look or discoloration, tear, or small pinholes.
- Baked goods should never be eaten and should be immediately thrown away.
- Anything that seems questionable should be discarded.
Since we manufacture safety glasses to protect users’ eyes, we can’t forgo warning you of the dangers present on Halloween that affect individuals’ eyes. Costume accessories, such as an eye patch, mask, or wig, can impede vision. Consider using makeup instead of covering the face and potentially affecting vision.
Also, wearing colored contact lenses is a significant cause of eye injuries. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) warns that unapproved, non-branded contact lenses can cause eye infections, which may result in vision loss. Don’t use contact lenses unless a trained eye professional issues them.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
44% of all Halloween injuries result from pumpkin carving activities, while 27% of all injuries are in the form of lacerations. So, it makes sense to wear cut-resistant gloves to shield your hands from sharp blades and other potential cut hazards.
Since things can get messy when carving up a pumpkin, consider covering the cut-resistant gloves with disposable nitrile gloves for easier cleanup. Click on the images below to be taken directly to that product category’s website page.
92721 is our lightest weight cut-resistant glove available; you’ll barely notice you’re wearing a glove.
You might be able to turn this popular hi-vis cut-resistant glove into a part of the decorations with its seasonally-appropriate orange and black design.
Cover your gloves with waterproof disposable gloves, and make clean-up a breeze.
Go orange and keep things festive!
Most kids are not going to wear safety vests over their costumes. However, the parents walking with their kids should consider wearing one to ensure drivers see their group walking at night. Make it part of your costume!
Common Questions About Halloween
Is Halloween a holiday?
- Halloween falls into the category of a day of celebration. It is not recognized as a national or religious holiday.
What is the origin of Halloween?
- Halloween has its roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, a pagan celebration to welcome the harvest at the end of summer. It adapted over centuries to become the festive, family-friendly day of celebration that we recognize today.
Where was Halloween first celebrated?
Do other countries celebrate Halloween?
- Halloween is widely celebrated in many countries around the world. Europe celebrates similarly to the United States, while other countries celebrate somewhat differently and follow All Saints’ Day traditions.
Is Halloween a paid holiday?
- There are no laws currently mandating pay for federal holidays. While it is common practice for some employers to offer holiday pay, Halloween is not a national holiday that is included in this practice.
Spooky Can Still Be Safe!
Halloween is a time when enjoyment and risk overlap. Before trick-or-treating or pumpkin carving, prepare for some of the most frequent Halloween accidents and work to avoid them to have the safest and most enjoyable Halloween night possible.
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