Tips to Help Children Stay Safe this Halloween
Wednesday 26th October
Ahead of Halloween night, child health experts from the HSE and Children’s Health Ireland have shared top tips for keeping your child safe over the holiday.
Halloween is an exciting time, but it is also one of the busiest nights of the year for emergency services. Families are encouraged to follow the below tips to have a fun and safe Halloween.
Choosing a costume with care:
– Be aware of fire risks and look for the CE mark if buying fancy dress costumes. This means it has met European safety standards. Looking for a ‘flame resistant’ label is also important. There are often more candles and fire hazards around at Halloween and a flame resistant costume will protect your child better in the event of any accident.
– Make sure costumes fit your child properly. Don’t dress them in oversized shoes or long material that could cause them to trip or fall.
– Make sure children wear “normal” clothes under their costume, so that some protection may be given should the costume catch fire; and for added warmth if they are going out trick or treating.
– Watch out for costumes or accessories with small parts. They may be a choking hazard for younger children.
Be safe and seen:
– The evenings are dark this time of year so it’s important to make sure your child can be seen when out and about.
– Ideally your child should wear lighter coloured clothing or have a reflective strip on the front and back, or a high visibility vest and carry a torch. It is a good idea to avoid poorly lit areas and use footpaths where available. If you are driving at Halloween, remember to slow down and watch out for children in dark costumes out and about and treat or treating.
Trick or Treating:
– Make sure your child is supervised by an adult when trick or treating. If there is a group of children, having an adult at the front and back of the group is a good way to keep an eye on everyone.
– Choking is a serious risk for children, particularly younger children. Check your child’s treats and remove treats that could cause choking aren’t in sealed packaging or look suspicious.
– Avoid lighting candles around your home as these are a fire risk, try battery-operated candles instead. Make sure button batteries are out of reach of children. If using novelty Halloween lights, check that they have a visible CE mark and have full contact details of the manufacturer and importer.
– Every year children get firework and bonfire-related injuries. Plan family fun and activities that don’t include fireworks and do not allow children attend unsupervised bonfires. Be cautious even at supervised bonfires. You never know when someone might throw something into the bonfire that could be highly flammable or toxic. Water or the appropriate fire extinguisher should always be nearby.
– Most of the illegal fireworks and bangers on sale in markets and from street traders are manufactured without safety standards and can cause serious injuries to children.
Dr Abigail Collins, National Clinical Lead for the HSE’s Child Health Public Health Programme and Consultant in Public Health Medicine, says: “Halloween is an exciting time for children. Unfortunately, it is also a time where injuries can occur. The good news is a lot of injuries that happen at this time of year can be prevented by taking precautions. The mychild.ie section of the HSE website has an extensive child safety section to help parents and carers to reduce risks to children all year round, but still allow them to have fun.”
Dr Paddy Fitzpatrick, Paediatric Emergency Medicine Consultant at Children’s Health Ireland said: “Halloween can be a very busy night across our sites at what is already an extremely high-pressured and busy time of year. Burns and firework injuries are extremely distressing and painful, and can cause lifelong and devastating consequences, so please be careful and cautious when out.
“Halloween can also be a time where there could be increased exposure to alcohol or drugs. It is important that parents take time to talk to their children and young people and give age appropriate advice on how to stay safe. For more guidance visit AskAboutAlcohol.ie.”
Dr Ciara Martin, National Clinical Advisor and Group Lead for Children and Young People, HSE, and Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine, says: “We want children and young people to have fun but stay safe this Halloween. This starts by thinking about the possible risks – the mychild.ie section of the HSE website has helpful information and is worth a look. Take time also to talk to your teenagers and young adults so that they can enjoy their Halloween safely and know what to do if an emergency happens.”
In case of an emergency:
– If your child’s clothes catch fire: get them to stop, drop and roll. This involves them stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with their hands and rolling until the fire is out. If they cannot stop, drop and roll, smother the flames with a blanket or towel.
– If their skin gets burnt and it is safe to do so, hold the burnt skin under cool running tap water for 20 minutes and seek medical help right away. In an emergency phone 999 or 112.
By following the safety advice of the HSE and emergency services, children of all ages should have a safe and spooky night!
Young people and alcohol – information for parents. For tips on how to talk to young people about alcohol and drugs visit the HSE website
Fire prevention and fire safety – video from Dublin Fire Brigade, An Garda Síochána and Children’s Health Ireland.