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Halloween Tales and Tips From the ER

Patch sat down with Dr. Mark Cichon over at Loyola University Hospital to find out what leads to Halloween trips to the emergency room and how to avoid them.

Halloween is such a fun holiday for kids (and adults too apparently)—you get to stay up late, play dress up and get more free candy than at any other time during the year.

Unfortunately, each year 9.2 million babies, children and teens end up in the emergency room on Halloween.

According to Dr. Mark Cichon, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Loyola University Health System, the most common reason for trips to the emergency room are simply from bumps and cuts generally from falling down in the dark, tripping over something, or missing a step on the stairs.

Among his tips for keeping kids and adults safe this Halloween, Cichon advised parents in the following:

  • Buy a pumpkin carving kit—don't use kitchen knives.
  • Watch out for candles in pumpkins and where you put out your bonfire to avoid accidental fires.
  • Work with a partner while putting up and taking down decorations on a ladder.
  • Check your kid's candy when they get home to make sure it's age appropriate. Keep the small stuff away from the young ones.
  • Dress for the weather.
  • Make sure costumes are visible and that kids can see properly out of them. 

Patch: How busy is Halloween in the ER compared to other holidays?

Dr. Mark Cichon: Halloween is one of the busiest times of the year for the emergency room.

Patch: What are the most common Halloween injuries you see?

Dr. Cichon: In the Loyola emergency department, we usually see strains, sprains, bumps, cuts and breaks largely due to falls and trips. Kids are unfamiliar with houses and fall down porch steps, trip over curbs and also stumble due to costumes. Little kids often get jostled by the crowds and can be injured by falling and even getting stepped on. 

Patch:  Do you see more kids on Halloween, or adults?

Dr. Cichon: At Loyola emergency services, we see a pretty equal number of adults and kids on Halloween. The adults usually have more serious injuries due to vehicle crashes and, unfortunately, the use of alcohol.

Patch: Do you have suggestions for parents who want to make their kid's costumes safer?

Dr. Cichon: Making sure your child can see and also be seen is critical. Put reflective stickers on the back of masks and headwear, and on the back and arms of costumes to make sure kids can be noticed. Make sure kids can properly see out of masks and headgear.

Patch: What's the main piece of advice you would offer parents?

Dr. Cichon: Make sure kids can walk safely in costumes and that they are not too long, or can catch on things as kids go up and down house steps [and] curbs. Make sure any masks or headwear offer good visibility, so your child can see to walk safely. Accompany your kids when they are young, especially the little ones, to avoid injury due to a lack of coordination, fatigue or over enthusiasm.

Patch: Anything else you'd like to add?

Dr. Cichon: Happy Halloween to all and I hope I do not have to "treat" you at Loyola!

Patch: Thanks for the tips!

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