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The scariest day of the year can become all the more menacing if injuries and allergic reactions strike. With this in mind, education experts at Skillstg.co.uk have outlined preventative measures and solutions to five potential Halloween dangers.
Carve your pumpkin carefully
Carving pumpkins that you may have picked yourself from a pumpkin patch can be a fun activity if done safely. Below are some tips detailing how to safely carve a pumpkin. What to do if you injure yourself whilst carving, as well as safer alternatives for younger children:
- Make sure your pumpkin and your tools are dry: Using sharp tools when your hands are wet could result in slipping and injuring your hands.
- Always supervise children: Even if you trust your child to be careful with pumpkin carving tools, it is worth always keeping an eye on them as a safe option to avoid injury.
- Use a pumpkin carving kit: Whilst you may think that a sharp knife or a scalpel will do a better job cutting through the thick pumpkin skin, it only takes one slip of the hand to cut yourself. Pumpkin carving kits usually have a blunt tip with a serrated edge that is not capable of causing a deep, penetrating cut.
If you accidentally cut yourself, apply direct pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding. Rinse the wound under running tap water for 5 minutes. Soak a gauze pad or cloth in water, or use an alcohol-free wipe to dab the wound. It is best to avoid using antiseptic cream at this point as it may damage the skin. Gently pat the area dry with a cloth; don’t use cotton wool, as the material can become trapped in the wound. Apply a sterile dressing, such as a plaster or bandage, and continue to apply pressure if the injury is still bleeding.
A safer alternative for younger children may be to glue googly eyes and various foam shapes to the pumpkin’s surface. This allows your children to get creative without the fear of injury.
Remove coloured contact lenses safely
Sometimes, a colourful pair of spooky contact lenses can make your costume really stand out. However, there are some serious risks associated with wearing them. Below are some health and safety tips for those who might want to wear lenses this year:
- Wash your hands thoroughly before inserting contact lenses: This will reduce the risk of harmful bacteria reaching your lens and eyes.
- Put your contact lenses in before applying your makeup: Eye irritations and infections can be caused by applying lenses covered in makeup.
- If you notice that your contact lenses appear damaged, do not wear them: A damaged contact lens can scratch and damage the surface of your cornea.
- Check the packet for the recommended wearing time: Make sure you only wear your coloured contact lenses for the recommended time and do not sleep in them. If you accidentally fall asleep with the contact lenses still on your eyes, the contact lenses can cut off the supply of oxygen to the eye and lead to an eye condition called Corneal Neovascularization; this can threaten your vision.
If you are struggling to remove your lenses. With your non-dominant hand, hold open the lower and upper eyelid of your eye and use your index finger and thumb to pinch the contact lens gently. Pinch either side of the contact lens and pull it away from your eye, being careful not to pinch your eye directly.
Remove makeup and face paint
It can be tempting to purchase cheap makeup or face paint to create bright and colourful looks for Halloween. However, these cheaper products can lead to itching, rashes, breakouts, and irritation. Below are ways to avoid adverse makeup issues:
- Purchase high-quality makeup and face paint: Some cheaper brands of makeup and face paint contain artificial colours, fragrances, waxes, and oils that can block pores and cause severe allergic reactions. Consider using your regular makeup with the addition of colourful eye shadows instead of opting for thick and heavy face paint.
- Prepare your skin correctly: It is essential to apply a moisturiser before applying makeup to keep the skin hydrated. Using a moisturiser will also protect your skin from becoming clogged up with makeup, making it easier to remove later.
- Remove makeup before you go to bed: Whether you opt for high or low-quality makeup, it is essential to remove it before going to sleep. Makeup left on for more than 12 hours can clog your pores and cause spots and breakouts. Use an oil-based cleanser or coconut oil to rub away the makeup gently. Follow this with a gentle foaming cleanser that will remove any excess product.
Remove all makeup immediately if you have an allergic reaction or irritation to your Halloween makeup. If there is slight itching or irritation, you should feel better once the makeup has been washed off. If irritant contact dermatitis is present (patches of itchy and scaly skin or blistering rashes) it can be treated with over-the-counter creams containing steroids.
Check sweets for allergens
Sweets and chocolate are a big part of Halloween. For known food allergy sufferers, it is imperative to be vigilant when consuming sweets you haven’t purchased or made yourself. Below is a list of safety tips:
- Check the labels: It may seem an obvious tip, but for parents with children with food allergies, the best way to avoid an allergic reaction is to check the label for allergens before the child has a chance to eat it. This is especially the case if a child is out trick-or-treating. They are presented with lots of tempting treats by neighbours and strangers. Be aware that even sweets that don’t have a particular allergen listed in the ingredients can have trace amounts of common allergy triggers.
- Avoid cross-contamination: If a child with a food allergy is attending a Halloween party, it is best for the parent to make this known to the host and advise how to reduce cross-contamination of any foods containing allergens.
- Turn down home-baked treats: Whether you suffer from a food allergy or have a child who does, it is always safest to omit homemade food. Despite what the food maker may tell you about the ingredients, it is always safest not to take the risk of eating something with unknown ingredients.
- Plan alternatives to trick-or-treating: Pumpkin decorating contests, costume competitions and Halloween-themed games are great alternatives to knocking door-to-door for treats.
If you see that someone has an allergic reaction, it may be the case to provide the person with an antihistamine if a mild reaction is evident. However, if the person appears to be having trouble breathing, their airway is swelling, and they need immediate medical attention. If the person has an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) on their person and cannot administer it themselves, follow these steps:
- Have someone call an ambulance
- Take the EpiPen out of its package
- Remove the blue safety cap
- Hold the EpiPen in your fist, careful not to hold the orange end containing the needle.
- Push the end with the needle firmly against the person’s thigh (clothed or bare). Roughly halfway between the hip and knee. Inject the medicine into the fleshy part of the thigh- avoid injecting directly into a vein or the buttocks.
- Hold the EpiPen in place for at least three seconds so that all of the medicine can be injected
- Pull the pen straight up to remove the needle. A protective shield will cover the needle as soon as it is removed.
- Place the injector back into its package and present it to the paramedic when they arrive.
Make costumes visible to motorists
A 2018 study by Churchill Insurance revealed that the risk of children being involved in a traffic collision on the 31st of October increased by 75%. As the evenings become dark and spooky, so do costumes and clothes this Halloween. It is essential to make sure that you, and your children, can be seen clearly when trick-or-treating to prevent car accidents. Drivers should also ensure they are vigilant on the 31st of October in case visibility is reduced by dark-clothed people crossing the roads. Below are some tips on how to make a costume more visible to motorists:
- Use a torch when walking around at night: This will not only help you or a child see where they are going, but a torch will help to illuminate themselves as motorists drive by.
- Apply reflective tape: Placing reflective tape on the front and back of a Halloween costume will help make you more visible to drivers.
- Use glowsticks: Wearing glowsticks or incorporating them into your costume is a colourful way to become visible when crossing roads in the dark.
If you see someone get hit by a car, immediately call 999 and ask for an ambulance. If the affected person is conscious and appears not to be in great pain, advise them to keep still. Keep them warm until the paramedics arrive. If a more severe collision has occurred and the casualty has become unconscious but still breathing, roll them into the recovery position. Then, wait for paramedics to arrive.
A spokesperson from Skillstg.co.uk commented:
“Halloween hazards have become a reality for many over the years, but they can be prevented by taking the proper precautions. Health and safety risks associated with decorations, costumes and treats are all preventable by being extra careful and vigilant, especially when protecting children. With the excitement of dressing up and collecting free sweets, children often forget to watch out for dangers when out trick-or-treating. Parents of young children should accompany them and dress them in costumes that will appear bright and visible to motorists.”
Please Stay Safe and have a wonderful Halloween.