Experts discuss how to stay safe this Halloween

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Looking to try your hand at a more advanced carving technique? Marc Evan, one of the country’s premiere pumpkin carvers, is ready to lend some tips. (Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS — With Halloween being in less than two weeks, there’s a lot of room for hazard and injury.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an average of 3,600 people end up in the emergency room every year for Halloween-related injuries. Of those injuries, 48 percent were due to pumpkin carving, 27 percent were due to falling while putting up/taking down decorations or tripping on costumes, and 25 percent included lacerations, ingestions, allergic reactions and rashes associated with costumes, pumpkins or decorations.

56 percent of these injuries belonged to adults 18 years and over. The remaining 44 percent belonged to children under 18.

To prevent these injuries, CPSC recommends the following:

  • Leave pumpkin carving to adults. Child helpers can scoop out pumpkin insides and trace the design.
  • Use battery-operated lights or glow sticks instead of an open flame to prevent fires. However, if an open flame is necessary, keep it away from curtains, decorations and other combustables that could catch fire, and never leave burning candles unattended.
  • Use a ladder when hanging and removing decorations, and onl use lights that have been tested for safety. Check each set of lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard damaged lights.
  • Wear a costume that fits and isn’t overly long or baggy. Costumes that have loose, flowing fabrics are a tripping and fire hazard.

“One last thing,” they wrote. “Be sure to follow the advice of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and your local jurisdiction. COVID-19 still lurks, so know when to wear a mask, not a Halloween costume mask, but a protective mask.”

When it comes to protecting oneself from COVID-19, Chief Health Officer for IU Bloomington Dr. Aaron Carroll shared his thoughts in a press release on participating in Halloween and its various activities this year.

“First, we have to drop the mindset of things being safe or unsafe,” Carroll said. “There is no absolute safety; things can either be more or less safe.”

Some of those ways to make things safer would include being outside for trick or treating, maintaining distance when around others and picking up candy from a bowl instead of from another person’s hand and being face-to-face. If someone doesn’t want to miss the fun, they could set up a chair six feet away from the candy bowl so they could still interact with friends and neighbors.

“I know some people may want the traditional trick-or-treat experience with ringing the doorbell and physically putting candy into kids’ bags,” Carroll said. “This, obviously, has more risk to it than the grab-and-go option. If you choose this, I’d recommend wearing a mask, even if you’re fully vaccinated, and making interactions as brief as possible.”

Carroll also recommended a mask for those celebrating indoors and in large groups. The same applies to Halloween parties, but it ultimately comes down to knowing your environment and what risk levels you’re okay with.

“Luckily, most of the fall activities we enjoy in the Midwest are outdoors, with plenty of opportunities for distancing,” Carroll said. “The more activities you can do outside, the safer you can make them. Go pick pumpkins with your kids, take a hayride (mask up if it’s crowded and that makes you more comfortable), invite a small group of friends or neighbors over for s’mores in your fire pit. These are all great ways to stay connected to others, enjoy the fall weather and remain at relatively low risk for COVID-19.”

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