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For Immediate Release

Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Warns Parents That Ghosts and Goblins Are Not the Only Cause for Concern This Halloween

From choosing appropriate costumes to obeying traffic safety rules and staying away from unfamiliar areas, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC wants to make sure that all trick-or-treaters gather their treats safely this Halloween.

Anticipation for Halloween, in particular trick-or-treating, is at an all-time high in the days leading up to Oct. 31st. Houses are decorated, pumpkins are carved and costumes are chosen. With all that excitement, it is easy to overlook the precautions that should be taken to ensure safety, according to Barbara Gaines, MD, director of the Benedum Pediatric Trauma Program at Children's and assistant professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Traffic may pose the greatest danger during trick-or-treating, says Dr. Gaines. The number of deaths among pedestrians 5-14 years old is four times higher on Halloween evening compared with all other evenings of the year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Kids get excited while trick-or-treating and can forget the safety rules that they typically would follow. They are more likely to run out into the street from in between parked cars and without looking both ways," Dr. Gaines said. "Parents should tell their kids to stick to sidewalks and crosswalks to avoid any potential problem. Also, parents and children should carry a small flashlight."

Costume choice is a top priority for many children. Parents should be involved in this process and make sure that the costume does not pose any potential danger. Dr. Gaines suggests that, to avoid tripping, costumes should not be too long. Children should also trade in masks that can obstruct their breathing and vision for non-toxic face paint. Also, dark costumes should be outfitted with reflective strips of tape so that it is easier for drivers to see trick-or-treaters.

Children's offers some additional safety tips for parents to make sure their kids stay safe while trick-or-treating this Halloween:

  • Make sure that all children have adult supervision.
  • Avoid sharp objects as costume accessories.
  • Give children brightly colored trick-or-treat bags.
  • Trick-or-treat in familiar neighborhoods.
  • Know in advance the route that children are taking.
  • Give children money or a phone to call home if necessary.
  • Preschool-age children and toddlers can be afraid of the scarier aspects of Halloween. Talk to them in advance about the difference between reality and make-believe.

For more information about Halloween safety, please visit Children's Injury Prevention Web site.

Marc Lukasiak, 412-692-7919 or 412-692-5016,
Melanie Finnigan, 412-692-5502 or 412-692-5016,

Last Update
February 15, 2008
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Last Update
February 15, 2008