Keeping Injuries In The Closet This Halloween

Orthopaedic surgeons offer Halloween safety tips

ROSEMONT, Ill. , Oct. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Having an enjoyable Halloween is all about the preparation. First you get the perfect costume, then the house decorations, the trick-or-treating route and last but not least, the candy. But orthopaedic surgeons want to help get you through Halloween safely.


"There are numerous injuries that occur this time of year, and as an orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in treating hand injuries, I often see hand fractures and lacerations that stem from falls, or from using sharp carving tools," said orthopaedic surgeon and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) spokesperson, Edward Akelman, MD. "To reduce these injuries, it's essential to utilize the proper pumpkin carving tools and avoid costumes that obstruct vision which can lead to falls and other bodily harm."


Statistics from 2007-2011 show the following injuries around Halloween among children 18 years and younger:

  • Children, ages 10-14 sustained the greatest portion of injuries at 29 percent
  • Head injuries accounted for the greatest portion of injuries at 17 percent followed by finger/hand injuries at 14.2 percent
  • Of the finger/hand injuries sustained, 25.6 percent were lacerations and 15.2 percent were fractures

Source: Department of Research & Scientific Affairs, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Rosemont, IL: AAOS; October 2012. Based on D'Ippolito A, Collins CL, Comstock RD. Epidemiology of pediatric holiday‐related injuries presenting to US emergency departments. Pediatrics. 2010 May; 125 (5):931‐7. Data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) On‐line, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

To help reduce the risk for injury on Halloween, consider the following tips from AAOS and the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA):


Trick-or-treating tips

  • It is important that children walk on sidewalks and never cut across yards or driveways. They also should obey all traffic signals and remain in designated crosswalks when crossing the street.
  • Costumes should be flame-resistant and fit properly. Be sure the child's vision is unobstructed by masks, face paint or hats. Costumes that are too long may cause kids to trip and fall, so trim or hem them as necessary.
  • Children should wear sturdy, comfortable, slip-resistant shoes to avoid falls.
  • Trick-or-treaters should only approach houses that are well lit. Both children and parents should carry flashlights to see and be seen.
  • Be aware of neighborhood dogs when trick-or-treating and remember that these pets can impose a threat when you approach their home.
  • Be considerate of fire hazards when lighting jack-o-lantern candles or use non-flammable light sources, like glow sticks or artificial pumpkin lights.
  • Consider healthier alternatives to candy such as fruit bars and granola mix.
  • Carry a cell phone while trick-or-treating in case of an emergency.

Pumpkin carving tips

  • Adults carving pumpkins should remember to use a pumpkin carving kit, or knives specifically designed for carving, as they are less likely to get stuck in the thick pumpkin skin.
  • In general, children should not carve pumpkins. However, some Halloween carving devices, designed especially for children, may be safe for use with parental supervision. Children also can empty the seeds out of the pumpkin, or use a pumpkin decorating kit that does not involve pumpkin carving.
  • Always carve pumpkins in a clean, dry and well-lit area and make sure there is no moisture on the carving tools or your hands.
  • Should a pumpkin carver cut a finger or hand, make sure the hand is elevated higher than the heart and apply direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth to stop the bleeding. If continuous pressure does not slow or stop the bleeding after 15 minutes, or if the cut is deep, an emergency room visit may be necessary.

With more than 37,000 members, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, ( or ( is the premier not-for-profit organization that provides education programs for orthopaedic surgeons and allied health professionals, champions the interests of patients and advances the highest quality of musculoskeletal health. Orthopaedic surgeons and the Academy are the authoritative sources of information for patients and the general public on musculoskeletal conditions, treatments and related issues.

More than one in four Americans have bone or joint health problems, making them the greatest cause of lost work days in the U.S. When orthopaedic surgeons restore mobility and reduce pain, they help people get back to work and to independent, productive lives. Orthopaedic surgeons keep this "Nation in Motion." To learn more about A Nation in Motion campaign, or to read hundreds of patient stories or to submit your own story, visit

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SOURCE American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons