What do bacon and eggs, a plug and socket and Ken and Barbie all have in common? While they might all be common household items; they’re also just a sample of the elaborate Halloween costumes that exist in today’s marketplace. These costumes can be fun and eye-catching or even win you a first place prize at a Halloween party, but it’s important to remember that if proper precautions aren't taken, Halloween costumes can increase your risk of serious orthopedic injury, both in children and adults.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2011 there were more than 3,500 Halloween-related injuries in the United States, ranging from burns and cuts while decorating pumpkins to trips and falls due to ill-fitting costumes. Other statistics published by the American Academy of Pediatrics stated that youth ages 10-14 account for nearly 30% of injuries among children 18 and younger, and out of the children 18 and younger injured on Halloween, 10% were from stairs, landings, ramps and floors.
Whether you are eight, 18 or 80, it’s important to stay safe this Halloween by preventing fall-related injuries that can especially harm your back or neck, all while still having fun. Here are a few tips, and maybe some reminders, when choosing costumes for you and your family this spooky season:
• Before you purchase a costume, think about what you’ll be doing while wearing it. Will it hinder you from seeing oncoming traffic as you cross the street? Can you walk several blocks in those shoes? Will the costume drag on the ground or will it allow you to easily navigate the appetizer table at the Halloween party?
• If you’re going to wear a mask, make sure to try it on first. Since no two faces are exactly alike, it’s important to test the mask by making sure it fits properly, doesn't impair vision and provides adequate ventilation for breathing.
• Equally important is trying on your costume before purchase, or if purchasing online, as soon as you receive it. Consider whether you can move freely, if the costume is too long, short, snug or immobilizing. Those life-size Ken and Barbie dolls in boxes may be great for the costume contest, but chances are the boxes will prevent seeing your surroundings, bending when needed and watching for any low-to-the-ground hazards like pot-holes or stairs.
• Wearing sturdy shoes will help prevent falls. Solidly planting your feet to the ground will help, especially if the costume can be a bit cumbersome. In other words, don’t wear stiletto heels if you do choose to be a pirate with an eye patch.
• If you will be pounding the pavement in the dark, make sure to carry a flashlight so you can avoid any unforeseen hazards ranging from sneaky Halloween decorations to sticks or stones that might be in your path.
• Flame resistant material is always helpful too, especially if a costume might be wide, stiff or obstruct your view. Candles typically play a huge role in decor around homes during Halloween-time, and flame resistant material might buy you precious seconds when coming in contact with candlelit walkways or a pair of pumpkins.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts that Americans will spend almost $7 billion on Halloween this year, with each household spending an average amount of $75 between decorations, costumes and candy. The NRF also reports that in 2013 more than 60% of Americans plan to celebrate Halloween, with nearly 40% of adults planning to wear a costume, and roughly 30% planning to attend some sort of Halloween party or take their children trick-or-treating.
With so many Americans planning to participate in some sort of Halloween fun this year, why not take a few extra minutes to safely plan your adventures? That way your celebrations can be filled with bobbing for apples, planning tricks and eating a treat or two, rather than ending the festivities early due to injury or worse, a trip to the ER.