Halloween Ranks High for Holiday ER Visits
Halloween is a fun holiday for children and parents alike. The holiday allows neighborhoods and communities in Chicago and throughout Illinois to come together for activities such as parties and trick-or-treating.
Although we do not like to think about personal injury risks on a holiday like this one, injuries happen more often than most Chicago residents would like to believe on Halloween.
According to a study published several years ago in the Journal, Pediatrics, nearly six million children under age 19 went to emergency departments with holiday-related injuries during a 10-year period that researchers analyzed. The study found Halloween to be the holiday with the fourth-highest number of injuries, trailing Labor Day, Memorial Day and Fourth of July.
Common Halloween injuries include cuts or lacerations from carving jack-o-lanterns as well as:
- Pedestrian accidents involving children who are struck while walking near the street or crossing the street while trick-or-treating
- Auto accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers
- Burn injuries from jack-o-lanterns and luminaries
- Falls from costumes which do not fit properly
- Dog bites and animal attacks as children go door-to-door for candy.
So, as exciting and enjoyable as Halloween may be, it is highly important to be safe and take necessary precautions. It is also important to protect your legal rights if you or your children are harmed by the negligence of others on Halloween.
Risks of Slip-and-Fall Accidents on Halloween
When Halloween costumes do not fit properly, or the walkway of a neighborhood house is unexpectedly slick, dangerous slip-and-fall accidents can take place.
Chicago homeowners have a duty to visitors, including trick-or-treaters, which involves maintaining their property in a manner that is reasonably free of hazards. If a slip and fall occurs while your child is trick-or-treating, you may be able to file a premises liability lawsuit against the negligent property owner.
Risks of Car Accidents on Halloween (Involving Child Pedestrians)
Halloween car accidents happen with frequency in Waukegan and other areas in Chicago. Many of these auto accidents involve the use of alcohol.
The victims also are often young children who are pedestrians. In fact, PreventInjury.org reports that, on average, “children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than other days of the year.”
When trick-or-treaters are wearing dark costumes or cross the street outside a crosswalk, a driver may not be able to stop in time. If your child was involved in a pedestrian accident on Halloween, you should learn more about taking legal action against a driver whose careless or reckless actions may have caused the accident.
Risks of Dog Bites on Halloween
You and your child may approach a house with a dog while trick-or-treating. The dog could become territorial and attack. Dog bites can result in very serious injuries, often requiring immediate medical attention.
A report from the American Pet Products Association (APPA) states that more than 60 percent of American homes have dogs. As such, it is particularly important to be on the lookout for pets while trick-or-treating. A Chicago dog bite lawyer can discuss your options with you.
Halloween Safety Tips for Homeowners
Since homeowners have a duty to persons invited onto their properties (including kids who are out trick-or-treating), homeowners should ensure that their yards and walkways do not have any significant hazards.
If you have your porch light on, indicating that you are welcoming trick-or-treaters, you should:
- Avoid using luminaries, which can cause burn injuries
- Remove sticks, branches, or other tripping hazards from your walkways
- Clean up any slick areas on your walkways that may have resulted from rain or other conditions.
Staying Safe: Halloween Safety Tips for Keeping Your Children Safe
What do you need to do to ensure that your kids are safe on Halloween?
Several safety organizations and advocacy groups provide helpful information for families to make Halloween a safe and fun holiday this year.
Based on information from Safe Kids Worldwide, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and an excellent compilation of advice by HealthDay, the following are some of the most important safety tips for Chicago parents as we approach Halloween:
- Use reflective tape or brightly colored stickers. Use these items when you are decorating your child’s costume and candy bag. Bright or light colors can help to ensure that automobile drivers see your child when he or she is on the sidewalk or crossing the street.
- Buy flame-resistant costumes. A safe costume will help your child to avoid the risk of a burn injury from a jack-o-lantern or luminaries.
- Give your child a flashlight or glow stick. Require that your child carry these items so that drivers can see him or her. Having a glow stick or flashlight can also help your child to see where he or she is walking, preventing the risk of falls.
- Avoid masks. Particularly when you are finding a costume for a younger child, you should avoid any mask that will obstruct the child’s vision while walking. If a child has difficulty seeing, he or she may suffer a slip-and-fall accident. Instead of a mask, consider using non-toxic face paint.
- Walk on sidewalks at all times. Encourage your child to avoid cutting across yards or driveways. Your child could risk a fall accident or a deadly pedestrian accident.
- Wear comfortable and slip-resistant footwear. These items can prevent slips, trips and falls.
- Only approach well-lit houses. A home with a dark walkway may have trip and fall hazards. It may also have a dog in the yard that can’t be seen.
- Watch out for neighborhood dogs. Avoid startling a pet or approaching a pet. It is best to keep a distance.
- Only use pumpkin-carving knives that are designed for carving pumpkins. These knives are less likely to cause a serious laceration. If you or your child gets cut, you should use a clean cloth and apply pressure to the wound. In addition, you should elevate the area of the cut so that it is above the heart. If the cut does not stop bleeding within 10 to 15 minutes or appears particularly deep, you may need to visit an emergency room for stitches.
- Buy your child a costume that fits properly. Poorly fitted costumes can result in trips and falls.
- Do not allow children under 12 years old to go trick-or-treating without adult supervision. If your child is old enough to go trick-or-treating without adult supervision, remind him or her to stay in well-lit areas and to remain with a group.
- Keep a proper lookout. If you are driving between the hours of 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. (the most popular hours for trick-or-treating), be particularly careful about looking for children crossing the street or walking along the road.
- Carry a cell phone with you. If there is an accident or other medical emergency, you can seek help immediately.
If you or your child suffers a serious injury on Halloween, you may be eligible to seek financial compensation. A Chicago personal injury lawyer can answer your questions. Contact Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., to learn more about how we can help with your case.
Patrick A. Salvi concentrates his legal practice in several limited areas primarily involving a trial practice in cases concerning serious personal injury, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and mass torts. Mr. Salvi has achieved record-breaking jury verdicts and settlements on behalf of his clients, including serving as lead counsel in obtaining an Illinois record-high $148 million jury verdict and a Lake County record $33 million jury verdict.