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When Trick or Treat becomes Treat and Triage

Tips for a healthy and safe Halloween – and where to turn for virtual emergency medicine expertise should something unexpected happen

Halloween night is one of those beloved childhood holidays — the excitement builds as soon as the leaves begin to change and the air turns crisp. The question of the month, ‘what are you going to be for Halloween?’ is the big topic of conversation for kids everywhere.

Parents know if anything should happen to dampen the festive spirit — like a cold and a high fever on Halloween morning, or a trip and fall in a bulky costume — the fun for their little ghosts and goblins will disappear.

Halloween is a fun and festive time for our kids (and maybe many adults) filled with costumes, treats, parties and traditions. While this means fun for our families, Halloween is also a time where a few errors in judgment could result in injuries, illness, or worse.

Thankfully, if something does happen, our virtual ER is there to help in an instant, and can treat and triage costumed characters from anywhere — like the comfort of home between candy handouts. This means not interrupting Halloween with a rush to the busy emergency room or a crowded urgent care … instead, using UCM’s virtual medicine offering, patients receive immediate care, can have medicine prescribed or have X-rays scheduled if needed, and even set a plan for further care as determined by the UCM provider. And yes, costumes are welcome during patient consults!

Here’s to wishing everyone a happy and safe Halloween — we’re here when you need us.

Meanwhile, here are a few tips for making Halloween as safe and healthy as possible:

  • Costume safety. Whether your child is dressing up as a beautiful fairy tale princess or a scary monster, it’s important to plan ahead to be sure costumes are as safe as they can be. It’s important that those costume don’t obstruct your child’s field of vision or breathing, but also can be seen at night – those scary dark colors aren’t the best for crossing the street at night, even in the safest neighborhood. The CDC offers some great, comprehensive tips on Trick-or-Treating safety here.
  • Candy in moderation. While as health care providers, we never recommend eating a bunch of candy, we recognize that Halloween is a time when kids (and adults) often indulge and enjoy sugary sweets they wouldn’t otherwise eat at 9pm. How to over overindulging? When you’re checking your children’s candy for safety, work with them to set aside a portion of it (maybe half) to give away, rather than eat. In fact, we’ve found great opportunities to send candy to our troops overseas for a little taste of home. Organizations like Soldiers’ Angels and Operation Gratitude will take that excess candy off your hands and send it off to those defending freedom.
  • Carefully carving the pumpkin. Every fall, ERs see a boost in traffic from folks cutting themselves while carving their pumpkins. Don’t be one of those statistics! There are ways to avoid these injuries, including using a well lit area for carving, keeping sharp knives out of the hands of children, and carving your pumpkin with the top still on. However, it might be even better to buy a simple and safe pumpkin carving kit, like those found on or at stores like Target and Wal-Mart, avoiding using sharp kitchen knives for the job. Even better is painting your pumpkins – a great way to stand out in the neighborhood!
  • Prescription-ready. If your child suffers from allergies or asthma, make sure they have their meds and inhaler ready, should the need arise. Being exposed to dust and airborne particles they haven’t encountered in months can cause reactions – and it’s best to be prepared!

Of course, if you have overindulged on candy or carved your finger instead of your pumpkin, remember, the dedicated UCM team stands ready to help with emergency medicine expertise. We can treat and triage medical concerns immediately and thoroughly so that the right care at the right place, at the right time is provided to superheroes, fairy princesses, scary monsters, and cute little witches alike! 

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