Halloween and Bonfire Night can be a special time for little ones, with the excitement of Trick-or-Treat and fireworks. However, dark evenings and over-excited children is potentially a recipe for disaster, and advanced preparation can help to ensure the evening is memorable for all of the right reasons.
Fancy dress costumes are neither waterproof nor flame resistant – wear warm clothes underneath, take a waterproof, and be very careful to avoid naked flames.
Always hold children’s hands and be ready in case they panic and run, if something suddenly scares them.
Trick-or-Treat sweets may not be the freshest or most hygienic, and will definitely not have been screened for anyone with a nut allergy!
Children should be reminded that Trick-or-Treat can be disturbing for some people, and they should be sensitive to elderly people, those with tiny children, and others who really don’t like the whole idea and find it worrying and frightening. They should only approach houses where there is an obvious sign - such as a pumpkin - to show they are actively participating in the fun.
For older children going out together, be sure that you know the route that they are taking; drum into them the importance of sticking together, and also remind them about road safety as, in their excitement, they may dash across roads in the dark.
The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to go to a public display. If you are planning fireworks at home, again, prepare in advance:
Have an appropriately stocked First Aid kit, a bucket of sand, and plenty of water as well as a fire blanket and a bottle of sterile saline to irrigate eyes should sparks be blown into them. Check that the fireworks conform to British Standards and you have sufficient space to ignite them safely.
Ensure you would know what to do in a medical emergency – please book onto a First Aid course or take an online course from www.onlinefirstaid.com.
Sparklers are fun, but they burn extremely fiercely and are not suitable for children under the age of five.
Light sparklers one at a time, and always wear gloves
Always supervise children with sparklers, to ensure they do not brush against other people or burn themselves. Have a bucket of sand ready to put used sparklers into, and ensure no one picks them up until they are completely cool.
However careful you are, injuries can happen and here is how to treat some of the more common ones.
Hold the affected area under cold, running water for at least 10 minutes.
Cool the burn and keep the person warm – look out for signs of shock.
If a child is burnt and the area is blistered and larger than a 50p piece, you should phone for an ambulance.
Once the burn has been cooled for at least 15 to 20 minutes, the burn can be covered with cling film or inserted into a sterile plastic bag if appropriate – alternatively, keep running it under water until the paramedic arrives.
If clothing is on fire
Remember: Stop, drop, wrap and roll.
Stop the casualty panicking or running – any movement or breeze will fan the flames.
Drop the casualty to the ground and wrap them in a blanket, coat, or rug. Ensure they are made from flame-resistant fabrics such as wool.
Roll the casualty along the ground until the flames have been smothered.
If clothing has caught fire, it is more than likely that the burn will be severe. A severe burn is deep and may not hurt as much as a minor one due to damaged nerve endings.
Start cooling the burn immediately under cool, running water - use a shower if the burns are large, but keep looking for signs of shock and be ready to treat it. Keep cooling the burn while waiting for professional help to arrive. Ensure you are cooling the burn and not the casualty, and keep areas that are not burnt as warm and dry as possible to try and avoid the casualty going into shock.
Instruct a helper to dial 999 or 112 for an ambulance.
Whilst cooling, remove any constricting items such as jewellery or clothing from the affected area unless they are stuck to the burn. Wear sterile gloves if they are available
Fireworks and bonfires release sparks and debris, which can be blown into the eye.
Wash your hands and carefully open the casualty’s eye, looking in particular for any embedded object.
If there is anything lodged in the eye, cover both eyes and phone for an ambulance.
If you can see the object in the eye and it is moving freely, use a sterile eye wash and gently irrigate the eye to remove it. If the casualty is still in pain, or discomfort, seek medical advice.
It is strongly advised that you attend a practical or online First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.
First Aid for Life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.
*based on 1994 statistics