The spookiest holiday of the year is just around the corner and kids across the country are gearing up for a night of collecting as much candy as their buckets can hold. While Halloween scares normally come in the form of ghoulish ghosts and creepy creatures, some of the holiday's biggest dangers are a bit more human. Let's take a look at some of the most significant Halloween health hazards that could affect you and your family.
Food allergies: Read all labels
For children with food allergies, trick-or-treating poses a unique problem. Common allergens, such as nuts, are hidden in many treats or may have contaminated foods that are supposed to be allergen-free during the production process.
If your little one has a food allergy, be sure to check the ingredients label on every treat they get before they eat it. You can also keep an eye out for homes participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project. The non-profit organization Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) started this campaign to raise awareness of the risk of food allergies during Halloween and offer alternative treats. Homes participating in the campaign display a pumpkin painted teal or a sign from the website to signal to children with food allergies and their parents that their home is offering allergy-free Halloween treats. These treats often include stickers or small toys rather than candy.
Costume safety: Make sure your child can see and be seen
After the candy collection, picking out the perfect Halloween costume is the best part of the holiday for many children. Before you hit the sidewalks to trick-or-treat, be sure that your child's costume doesn't pose any dangers that could send them to see their doctor.
To avoid trips and falls, make sure their costumes aren't too long. Also make sure they aren't wearing a mask that obscures their vision. Face painting could be an alternative to wearing a mask. Consider adding reflective tape to the back of their costume and carrying a flashlight to help them see and be seen by others. Glow sticks can also be fun to wear as accessories and make your children easier to spot on the dark streets.
Although 85% of urgent care centers are open seven days a week and the doctors there would be ready to provide medical treatment on Halloween, the urgent care waiting room isn't where you want to end up on this beloved holiday.
Fog machines: They add to the spooky fun but may also trigger asthma
Plenty of Halloween parties have fog machines to create an appropriately spooky atmosphere, but the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology warns that short-term exposure could trigger acute asthma symptoms. The dry ice or chemical additives that produce the fog are often the culprits of these symptoms.
If your child has asthma and you attend or host a party with a fog machine, be sure that there is adequate ventilation in the area. Don't hesitate to take your child into a different room or leave the party entirely, as coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing that comes with asthma can turn a fun Halloween into a miserable night of being sick.
If you have any health concerns about your children on Halloween, be sure to consult their doctors ahead of time for proper medical advice. Even if nothing happens beyond the holiday's usual spookiness, it's better to be prepared than to face an unexpected emergency.