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Expert advice

25th Oct 2023

HSE shares tips for a happy, healthy and safe Halloween mid-term break

Jody Coffey

Can you believe the October midterm is already here?

As we fast approach the first break of the new school term, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has offered some tips and advice for parents on how to enjoy this time of year safely.

The midterm is sure to be a fun time for families to bond and spend quality time together; however, it pays to heed the advice from the HSE, who are issuing a few gentle reminders about little things that can cause big accidents.

Family fun without the fireworks

This one goes without saying, but it still needs to be said. Try planning activities for the family that do not involve the use of fireworks.

There are a wealth of simple and seasonal arts and crafts and Halloween games, as well as trick-or-treating on Halloween night.

If that fails, check out local events in your area organised by local councils, libraries, museums, and other organisations to keep the kids busy.

The HSE warns that every year children get firework and bonfire-related injuries, as well as that most of the illegal fireworks and bangers on sale in markets and from street traders are manufactured without safety standards and can cause serious injuries to children.

Health bosses also do not recommend allowing children to attend bonfires unsupervised, and even if supervised, use extreme caution.

Bonfires are unreliable, and if a foreign object with flammable or toxic components was thrown into them, it could become highly dangerous.

Always ensure a fire extinguisher and water are nearby at such events.

Halloween costumes with the CE mark

It pays to know that Halloween costumes that have met European safety standards will always come with a CE mark.

The HSE also advises looking for a ‘flame-resistant’ label when purchasing children’s costumes. This is especially important as there tends to be an increase in candle and fire hazards around Halloween, and having a fire-resistant costume will protect your child in the event of such an accident.

Should a costume catch fire, having ‘normal’ clothes on underneath can give some protection and more time while it’s being put out. It also helps keep your child warm when we’re trick-or-treating.

The HSE also recommends that your child try on their costume and see if it fits. Avoid dressing in anything oversized or long that could result in a fall.

Costumes with small parts or accessories are also a choking hazard for younger children.

Be safe and seen in the dark.

The clocks are set to go back, making already-dark evenings even darker. With that, it’s important to make sure that all family members can see and be seen by others when out and about, especially if you are out on Halloween itself for trick or treating.

Ideally, your child’s costume should be lighter coloured, have a reflective strip on the front and back, have a high-visibility vest, carry a torch to ensure maximum visibility, and try to stay in areas that are well-lit.

Motorists should remember to slow down and watch for children.

Trick or treating safely

If your child is trick-or-treating this year, make sure you or a trusted adult join them.

The HSE also suggests one adult at the front and one at the back if there is a group of children going together.

Check your child’s treats.

Unfortunately, items can end up in trick-or-treat bags that can cause harm and danger.

Always ensure to check their bag throughout to rule out any sinister items.

Choking is also a serious risk for children, particularly younger children. Remove any treats that could be a potential choking hazard, aren’t in sealed packaging, or look suspicious.

Avoid buying treats that contain nuts to trick-or-treat visitors to your home.