Emergency physicians give tips to ensure a safe Halloween


Group of kids with Halloween costumes walking to trick or treating (Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) has sent out a warning to parents reminding them of certain safety precautions to avoid emergencies during Halloween celebrations.

ACEP said Halloween night is normally busy for emergency physicians, and it offered suggestions that can help ensure safe behaviors.

According to emergency physicians, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined trick-or-treating throughout neighborhoods a low-risk activity in 2021. However, the agency said COVID-19 can still spread among children, especially those who are unvaccinated and live in high-risk households.

“Everyone can take steps to safely enjoy the spooky season, but we should remember the pandemic is not over yet,” said Gillian Schmitz, MD, FACEP, president of ACEP. “Let’s prioritize the smart choices and behaviors that we know can help avoid spreading COVID-19.”  

Those celebrating should do their best to avoid large crowds, keep social distance, and hold activities outside when possible, emergency physicians said. They also highlighted costume masks do not work as a replacement for cloth masks, since they do not ensure the same protection. Additionally, they said people should avoid wearing a costume mask on top of a cloth mask because doing so can make it difficult to breathe.

Emergency physicians said that every year during Halloween they deal with an increase in things like car accident injuries, falls, and deep cuts caused during pumpkin carving. Here are the tips they offer to help avoid these types of emergencies:

  • Be safe while trick-or-treating. Children should not walk alone in the dark. Try to go as a group, in a familiar neighborhood, with an adult chaperone. Bring flashlights and stay on sidewalks when walking at night;
  • Make safe costume choices. Use reflective tape on costumes to increase visibility at night and avoid costumes that are hard to walk in or could cause a child to trip and fall. Dress appropriately for the weather to avoid the risk of hypothermia and wear only non-flammable materials. Make sure costume accessories are made from flexible material and that any swords, wands or pointed objects have dulled edges;
  • Watch what you eat. Avoid candy that is not wrapped in its original wrapper. Don’t eat too much; children and adults can get sick from over-indulging on candy. Pay attention to the labels on candy or other sweets because edible marijuana or related products can resemble food that looks harmless. Be mindful about which candy contains common allergens, such as peanuts, and be prepared with allergy medication as necessary;
  • Exercise caution with decorations. Keep sharp knives and lit candles away from children. Older children and teens should still be supervised while using any sharp tools. Young children should not carve pumpkins. Instead, consider having them decorate pumpkins by drawing designs or helping remove the pulp and seeds.  

“Halloween is meant to be a fun time with children, families and friends,” said Dr. Schmitz. “Nobody should have to spend their holiday in the emergency department. But if an emergency occurs, there will be an emergency physician ready to provide care to anyone who needs them.”

You can find more information on safety and health here.

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