Tips To Stay Out Of The Emergency Room this Halloween

October 23, 2019

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Michael P. Eagan, M.D. contributes to topics such as Emergency Medicine.

By Natalee Ruddock- Gorousingh

Halloween is that time of year when kids look forward to dressing up in their favorite costumes and eating a ton of their favorite candy. Adults look forward to parading as their favorite superhero, movie character, or even the scariest villain.

But, what could be more scary than zombies, goblins and mummies walking the streets?

Being in the emergency room (ER) on Halloween night!

Unlike most holidays, Halloween is typically a slow night in the emergency room, says Michael P. Eagan, M.D., the chair and medical director of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Raritan Bay Medical Center, but that still doesn’t stop the occasional frights in the ER come All Hallow’s Eve.

Although Halloween night may be slightly less eventful, Dr. Eagan has a few tips to help keep you out of the ER on Halloween night and ensure you have a “sweet” time.

Tip #1: Monitor candy consumption

Dr. Eagan says it’s common to see parents rushing to the ER with kids sick, often times vomiting and experiencing nausea from eating too much of their favorite candy. He advises parents to be very vigilant about the quality and quantity of candy consumed at Halloween. A few pieces of candy are acceptable, but sugar overload can be a nightmare!

Tip #2: Carefully inspect candy

A responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any candy that:

  • Has an unusual appearance or if the wrapper is damaged.
  • Spoiled or expired candy.
  • Any homemade items or baked goods from people you don’t know.

“Foods not packaged by a manufacturer should be avoided,” says Dr. Eagan. “Even fruits should not be eaten from strangers as they may be tainted or contaminated.”

Tip #3: Be mindful of serving size for small children

For smaller children, be mindful of serving size. Parents should take the same precautions as they would for small children consuming food – cut the candy into small pieces if it is too large for the child to swallow to avoid choking.

Tip #4: Avoid loose or dangling costumes and wear reflective clothing

To limit the risk of physical injury, Dr. Eagan recommends ensuring costumes fit properly and won’t cause a safety hazard.

  • Wear a costume that’s bright and reflective.
  • Make sure shoes fit and costumes are short enough to prevent tripping or contact with flame.
  • Look for costumes and accessories that are flame resistant.
  • Consider wearing non-toxic face paint or a hat instead of a mask, which can limit your eyesight.

Tip #5: Be careful when traveling from house to house

Pedestrian injuries are very common on Halloween. Parents should talk to their children about pedestrian safety and how to safely maneuver the streets – especially if they are heading out after dark. Practicing these safety precautions may help to avoid a pedestrian accident:

  • Look both ways and listen for traffic before crossing the street.
  • Use crosswalks where available and obey crosswalk signals.
  • Stay on sidewalks and avoid walking in the street. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic, as far to the side of the road as possible.

If you or a family member, or friend encounter a medical emergency on Halloween, please visit your nearest emergency room or call 911.

Michael P. Eagan, M.D., FACEP is the chair and medical director of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Raritan Bay Medical Center and assistant professor of Emergency Medicine at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University.

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.


National Safety Council

American Academy of Pediatrics