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Vanderbilt experts caution Halloween requires extra steps to keep children safe

October 28, 2011

Masks such as these can obstruct vision, especially younger children who haven't fully developed depth perception. Following simple safety procedures will help reduce the risk of falls, which are the primary cause of most Halloween-related injuries.

Masks such as these can obstruct vision, especially younger children who haven't fully developed depth perception. Following simple safety procedures will help reduce the risk of falls, which are the primary cause of most Halloween-related injuries.

With Halloween right around the corner, safety experts and doctors at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt are urging parents to accompany children under the age of 12 while trick-or-treating.

According to a recent Safe Kids USA study, 12 percent of children 5 years of age or younger are permitted to trick-or-treat alone. With twice as many child pedestrians killed on Halloween than other days of the year, it’s especially important for parents to be on-hand, as well as have a conversation with their children about pedestrian safety.

“Parents should remind their children about safe walking behaviors, like using sidewalks and crosswalks,” said Sarah Haverstick, Safe Children program manager at Children's Hospital. “In addition, parents should always add lights or reflective material to their children’s costumes.”

Following simple safety procedures will also help reduce the risk of falls, which are the primary cause of most Halloween-related injuries seen each year in Children’s Hospital’s emergency room. On Halloween, the number of patient visits to the emergency room increases about 5 percent over average days, as children are treated for lacerations, abrasions and broken bones.

Below are tips parents can use to help keep their children safe and injury-free:

• Outfit children with well-fitted costumes and shoes that are easy to walk in.
• Avoid wearing masks, which can obstruct vision-- especially younger children who haven't fully developed depth perception.
• Use flashlights and avoid crossing yards. Go only to well-lit houses and remain on porches.
• Make sure candy is age appropriate to avoid choking hazards.
Homeowners can also help make Halloween safe:
• Replace burned-out bulbs and turn on as many lights as possible to illuminate the yard and sidewalk.
• Clear the yard and sidewalk of anything children could trip over, like garden tools or fallen tree limbs.
• Secure pets.
• Give children a clear path to the door, free from pumpkins or other decorations they could trip over.

Media Inquiries:
Jeremy Rush
Media Relations Manager
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Phone: 615-322-4747
Email: jeremy .rush@vanderbilt.edu
http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/root/vumc.php?site=npa

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