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Tips from the HSE for a Happy, Healthy and Safe Halloween Mid-Term Break | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey



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Ahead of the Halloween mid-term break, the HSE has shared some tips and advice for parents on how to make the most of this time of year with children, keep them safe around Halloween events and get ‘winter ready’ for second half of the school term.

Focus on the simple things:

Parents can feel pressure to stage a perfect Halloween event, for example with elaborate costumes or home decorations. But children enjoy doing the simple things with parents, such as playing in the park, collecting conkers and crunching through leaves before winter starts to really set in.

Family fun without the fireworks:

Plan family fun and activities that don’t include fireworks such as simple arts and crafts, Halloween games and trick or treating. There are lots of simple ideas online for ways to play and keep children occupied. There may be free family events in your area organised by local councils, libraries, museums and other organisations.

Every year children get firework and bonfire-related injuries. 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.

Do not allow children attend unsupervised bonfires and be cautious at supervised bonfires. You never know when someone might throw something into the bonfire that could be highly flammable or toxic. Water or the appropriate fire extinguisher should always be nearby.

Choose a Halloween costume with the CE mark:

  • Be aware of fire risks and look for the CE mark if buying fancy dress costumes. This means it has met European safety standards.
  • Looking for a ‘flame resistant’ label is also important. There are often more candles and fire hazards around at Halloween and a flame resistant costume will protectyour child better in the event of any accident.
  • Make sure children wear “normal” clothes under their costume, so that some protection may be given should the costume catch fire; and for added warmth if they are goingout trick or treating.

Check that costumes fit and don’t have small parts:

  • Make sure costumes fit your child properly. Don’t dress them in oversized shoes or long material that could cause them to trip or fall.
  • Watch out for costumes or accessories with small parts. They may be a choking hazard for younger children.

Be safe and seen in the dark:

  • With evenings darker at this time of year, and even darker earlier when the clocks go back, it’s important to make sure that both adults and children can be seen whenout and about, particularly if you are out on Halloween itself for trick or treating.
  • Ideally your child should wear lighter coloured clothing or have a reflective strip on the front and back, or a high visibility vest and carry a torch.
  • It is a good idea to avoid poorly lit areas and use footpaths where available.
  • If you are driving at Halloween, remember to slow down and watch out for children in dark costumes.

Trick or treating safely:

  • Make sure your child is supervised by an adult when trick or treating.
  • If there is a group of children, having an adult at the front and back of the group is a good way to keep an eye on everyone.

Check your child’s treats:

  • Choking is a serious risk for children, particularly younger children. Check your child’s treats and remove treats that could cause choking, aren’t in sealed packagingor look suspicious.
  • If you are giving treats to children, it is best to give nut-free treats if possible and avoid sweets that could be a choking risk for a small child.

Choose battery operated candles over naked flames:

  • Avoid lighting candles and use battery-operated candles instead if you want to create that Halloween atmosphere.
  • Never leave lit candles unattended in an area where you are expecting young children or children in dressing-up clothes to be.
  • Children are fascinated by flames and fire and need to be carefully supervised. Never leave a child unattended near candles or fires.
  • ·If using novelty Halloween lights, check that they have a visible CE mark and have full contact details of the manufacturer and importer.

Watch out for button batteries:

  • Make sure button batteries are out of reach of children. These are found in musical toys, books and novelty decorations.
  • Swallowing button batteries can be harmful. Children can choke on them.
  • Bring your child to your local emergency department if you think they may have swallowed one.

Get ready for winter:

  • Children are twice as likely as adults to catch flu. Take the opportunity of children being off school to get them the flu vaccine. It is available free of charge forchildren aged 2 to 12 from participating GPs and pharmacies. It is a nasal vaccine which is quick and painless.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine is also available. A booster dose is particularly important if your child has an underlying illness. Details of where to get the flu and COVID-19vaccines are available from hse.ie.
  • Plan ahead to what you might need if your child becomes ill over winter, such as who can care for them at home, and items like a thermometer and over-the-counter medicinessuch as Calpol / paracetamol / ibuprofento relieve symptoms.

Dr Abigail Collins, National Clinical Lead for the HSE’s Child Health Public Health Programme and Consultant in Public Health Medicine, says: 

“Children love the magic of Halloween. It is a great time of year for families to enjoy some simple fun and excitement, but safety is key as injuries can also occur. There are precautions parents can take to help prevent injuries. Following Halloween child safety tips can help make this a special time of year for everyone.

Really important also that we use mid-term to get ‘winter ready’ for all the coughs and colds that will be circulating over the winter. Mid-term is a great opportunity to get children protected from flu with a free nasal spray flu vaccine. The vaccine is available for free for all children aged 2 to 12 years and children aged 13 to 17 at high risk of flu from participating GP practices and pharmacies. Having the flu vaccine will help protect your child from getting an unpleasant dose of flu, but also vulnerable family members they’ll be seeing over the winter too.”

Dr Ciara Martin, HSE National Clinical Advisor and Group Lead for Children and Young People and Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine, says:

“Choosing costumes and making decorations makes this a fun time of year for children and young people. Parents can help keep their children safe by thinking about the possible risks and planning ahead. Take time also to talk to your teenagers and young adults so that they can enjoy their Halloween safely and know what to do if an emergency happens.

The mychild.ie section of the HSE website has an extensive child safety section to help parents and carers to reduce risks to children all year round.”

Dr Paddy Fitzpatrick, Paediatric Emergency Medicine Consultant at CHI Temple Street, says:

“Each year children and young people attend emergency departments with Halloween related injuries such as burns and firework injuries. Occasionally these injuries can have devastating or life changing consequences. We encourage adults to closely supervise younger children, and support young people in making decisions to keep themselves and their friends safe while having a fun this Halloween.”

In case of an emergency:

If your child’s clothes catch fire: get them to stop, drop and roll. This involves them stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with their hands and rolling until the fire is out. If they cannot stop, drop and roll, smother the flames with a blanket or towel.

If their skin gets burnt and it is safe to do so, hold the burnt skin under cool running tap water for 20 minutes and seek medical help right away. In an emergency phone 999 or 112.

By following the safety advice of the HSE and emergency services, children of all ages can have a fun mid-term with their family and friends, and safe and spooky Halloween night!

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