Ghosts and goblins, witches at night, trick-or-treaters in costume - a spooky fright!

Halloween is an exciting celebration for children, who dress up, enjoy parties, and eat yummy treats. However, Halloween-related injuries also make it a busy night in the Emergency Department. The most common of these Halloween injuries include:

  • AUTO vs PEDESTRIAN - Kids are particularly prone to being struck by cars on Halloween night. With excited trick-o-treaters dashing across streets in poor lighting and distracted drivers, Halloween is the perfect setup for catastrophe.

    • Prevent these injuries by:

      • Walking in larger groups, staying within arm’s reach of your little ones.

      • Reminding older kids to go down one side of the street together, then crossing the street collectively to the other side. No zig-zagging!

      • Wearing brightly colored items (e.g. glow sticks, lighted necklaces).

      • Carrying flashlights.

      • If wearing a mask, removing it while crossing the street for better peripheral vision.

  • FOOSH - This is medical acronym for “Fall Onto OutStretched Hand.” It is by far the most common mechanism of injury for fractures (broken bones) in the forearm and wrist. Kids are distracted on Halloween, running in the dark in unfamiliar costumes and carrying their candy totes. Inevitably, many of them trip and fall.

    • Prevent broken arms and other FOOSH injuries by:

      • Hemming costumes so they are not tripping hazards.

      • Removing masks while walking, so as to increase depth perception.

      • Using flashlights while walking.

  • COSTUME CONTACT LENSES - Fake contact lenses are increasingly popular for added dramatic effect, especially for tweens and teens. However, these inexpensive decorative contact lenses can actually be very dangerous for the eye and can even cause blindness. Costume contact lenses, if not properly fitted, can cause scratches and ulcers to the cornea (the outer layer of the eye). They can also cause infection (conjunctivitis) and even adhere to the cornea, requiring surgical removal. These complications may result in permanent damage to the eye. The FDA has gone so far as to place warnings on contact lenses not properly fitted by an eye doctor (either an ophthalmologist or optometrist).

    • Refer to the FDA website for further consumer warnings regarding decorative contact lenses. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm275069.htm

  • CANDY TAMPERING - There are many urban myths of malevolent individuals hiding sharp objects (such as razor blades, needles, or broken glass) in Halloween candy. However, the actual data for this is lacking. More frequently, children and teenagers present to the ED for complications from drug or alcohol ingestion.

    • To avoid accidental ingestion, make sure that all candy is recognizable, wrapped, and not tampered with. Many street drugs can look like candy. It is highly unlikely that neighborhoods would hand out bags of methamphetamine, MDMA (ecstasy), or cannabis (marijuana), however, children can inadvertently or unintentionally access the stash of others. When in doubt, throw it out.  

    • Alcohol intoxication/overdose is particularly common on Halloween night. Kids can present to the ED nearly comatose after even small amounts of alcohol consumption. Discussing alcohol and drugs with teenagers is always important, but especially so on Halloween.

Before heading out to trick-o-treat, make sure you are familiar with your candy-route. If you are trying out a new neighborhood, it is advised to check your local and state website for a list of registered sex offenders and to avoid these homes.

Remember -  stay in groups, cross the street together, wear bright colors, use glow sticks/flashlights, hem costumes, and map your trick-or-treating route. 3MD wishes you all a safe and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!



1. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm275069.htm