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Don’t Get Spooked this Halloween

JEMS Facebook fans offer safety tips for assessing costume-clad patients



Allison Moen | | Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How can you stay safe this Halloween? JEMS polled our Facebook fans to see what tips they had to offer about treating injured ghouls, witches and vampires, as well as how to stay out of harm’s way while trick-or-treating this year (besides trying to get the night off, that is). Here are a few of their tips.

Treating Costume-clad Patients
In terms of how to best assess patients while they’re decked out in a costume, it’s important first off to determine real blood from fake blood, says Ryan Morgan. Next, as Stephanie C. Webber says, “if an arm falls off, place it in a bio bag filled with insulated cold-packs, transport it to the hospital, and leave it at the triage station waving ‘hi’ to the nurse.”

Joking aside, it’s important not to mistake fake makeup for real bodily fluids, says Cindy Ramsey. “We had a haunted house at the firehouse one year. One of the ghouls got knocked silly when he was conked in the head by the back door of the hearse. [The emergency department] staff didn’t get the warning about his makeup. They freaked and tried to send the ambo crew to the trauma center. Oops!”

Daniel Jason Butler reminds providers to “remember people in costumes wear all sorts of makeup and weird contact lenses and accessories. Keep that in mind when performing your assessment because you may miss something. Also, for some reason people like to throw things at ambulances, so keep a keen eye for batteries, frozen eggs and paintballs.”

And lastly, as Aaron Orzel says, always make sure your patient isn’t “trying to eat your brains while you’re treating them.”

Safety First
Safety is also important on Halloween night when it comes to visibility, keeping track of children and dealing with costumes.

Stephanie C. Webber advises to “make sure your kids can see out of their masks if they wear one and can breathe out of the mask as well. (Did you hear about that frog mask recall? Seriously! Who makes a mask you can’t breathe out of?!)”

Another helpful way to keep track of your own trick or treaters is to write your mobile phone number on your child’s arm (in permanent ink) in case they get lost. Take note of what they’re wearing and take photos—especially at each place they visit, suggests Bridget Oudeman.

Michael Garcia advises wearing reflective vests over costumes. “[They] might not go with your costume if you’re not dressing up as a construction worker, but they increase visibility,” he suggests.

Escorting children to the door is also something to keep in mind. “Children should be escorted by parents the entire way from door to door. Some people do NOT want to participate in giving candy to kids and may leave a sign or note stating such. Young kids usually don’t read or have that danger “sixth sense” as well developed as adults. It’s too late if you have to run up the driveway to get a child out of harms’ way,” says Robert Elrose.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention also recommends a few tips, including the following:
• Never walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.
• Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.
• Lower your risk for serious eye injury by not wearing decorative contact lenses.
• Wear well-fitting masks, costumes and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips and falls.
• Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats unless you know the cook well.

Have a happy Halloween and stay safe out there.

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Related Topics: Health And Safety, Provider Wellness and Safety, trick or treating, safety, Halloween


Allison Moenis an assistant editor of JEMS and She joined Elsevier Public Safety in May 2010. She has a BA in journalism from Point Loma Nazarene University and an MA in English with a concentration in creative writing from California State University, Sacramento. Prior to joining JEMS, she was a copy editor with The Reporter Newspaper in Vacaville, Calif.


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