With Halloween quickly approaching, Illinois health officials are offering tips to stay safe this year, both from the spread of viruses and from injuries that are more common during spooky season.
Public health officials continue to encourage residents to receive a bivalent COVID-19 booster and a flu shot to offer protection from the viruses as cases are expected to rise in the coming months.
Additionally, health experts advise mask-wearing in crowded indoor spaces and to incorporate outdoor spaces during gatherings whenever possible.
Those handing out candy on Halloween should also make sure to wash their hands frequently, with health officials also advising trick-or-treaters to bring hand sanitizer with them this year.
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In addition to viruses, public health officials are warning of certain injuries that have occurred in higher frequencies around Halloween in recent years.
Over the past three years, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 3,200 Halloween-related injuries have been treated at American hospitals each year.
According to the IDPH, here's how the injuries occurred:
- 55% were related to pumpkin carving;
- 25% were due to falls while putting up or taking down decorations, tripping on costumes or walking while trick-or-treating;
- 20% of the injuries included lacerations, ingestions and other injuries associated with costumes, pumpkins or decorations, and allergic reactions or rashes.
Of those injured, 54 percent were ages 18 and older while approximately 10 percent of injuries were to children six years and younger.
The following safety tips were offered by Illinois health officials for pumpkin carving, costumes and decorations:
- Leave pumpkin carving to the adults. Child helpers can grab a spoon and scoop out the inside or use a marker to trace the design.
- When your jack-o’-lantern masterpiece is ready, use battery-operated lights or glow sticks rather than an open-flame candle.
- If using open-flame candles, keep them away from curtains, decorations and other combustibles that could catch fire.
- Never leave burning candles unattended.
- Wear a costume that fits and avoid overly long or baggy costumes to prevent trips and falls.
- Costumes with loose, flowing fabrics can also be a fire hazard when close to open flames – keep away.
- Reduce fire hazards by choosing costumes made of polyester or nylon fabric and not sheer cotton or rayon fabric. However, any fabric can burn if it comes in contact with an open flame.
- Use reflective tape as a trim for costumes and outerwear to help being seen in lower light. Wearing a brightly colored costume and carrying a flashlight or glow stick can also help brighten the walkways for trick-or-treaters.
- Prevent fires by using battery-operated lights and glow sticks instead of candles.
- Pay attention to placement of decorations. To help prevent falls, remove obstacles from lawns, steps and porches when expecting trick-or-treaters.
- Use CPSC’s ladder safety tips to prevent injuries while putting up or taking down decorations.
- Indoors or outside, only use lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory. Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard damaged sets.