Halloween is a time for children and adults alike to loosen up, show off creative costumes or other fantastical get-ups and indulge in treats that they hope will outnumber tricks.
Yet despite the carefree spirit of Halloween parties and parades, there are many ways to inadvertently end up injured, ailing or in distress while your friends are out howling at the moon. The candle conflagrations, the Halloween hit-and-runs, the greasepaint-triggered acne are all more common than the possibly apocryphal incidents of accepting apples or candy that some sadist has adulterated with razor blades.
Just in time for Halloween, several federal agencies and physicians' organizations have offered their recommendations for staying safe during the holiday once known as All Hallows' Eve.
The Food and Drug Administration compiled its "Lucky 13" tips for a safe Halloween. .
The American Academy of Pediatrics pulled together advice about safe costumes and safe pumpkin carving.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology sounded yet another warning about using decorative non-prescription contact lenses.
Even those with food allergies can enjoy a safe holiday, said Dr. Clifford W. Bassett, an allergy specialist at NYU School of Medicine. He recommends shopping in advance for foods and snacks free of suspected allergens, bringing your own treats to parties or while trick-or-treating, keeping emergency medications such as epinephrine pens handy should an allergic reaction occur, and considering non-food items such as stickers and crayons instead of candies and foods whose mystery ingredients could prove hazardous.
Here are what we at ABCNews.com have unscientifically determined to be the Five Dumbest Things That Could Get You Into Trouble on Halloween:
1. Leaving a room with a candle burning inside a jack-o'-lantern. Let's face it, that could set your home on fire. "The one thing we do know is that Halloween is one of the top five days for candle fires," said Lorraine Carli, a spokeswoman for the National Fire Protection Association in Quincy, Mass. For a safer Halloween glow, use short votive candles to minimize the risks of igniting nearby objects. Keep jack-o'-lanterns away from curtains. And, just like the firemen told you when they visited your elementary school for that childhood lesson in fire safety: never, ever leave a flame unattended.
2. Wearing a very long costume, because you could trip – or worse. Dr. Ryan A. Stanton, a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians in Washington, D.C., shared the tale of treating a child in a Batman costume whose long, dark cape became stuck in a car door after his mother thought she had safely dropped him off. She drove away without stopping, unaware her son was being dragged about 15 feet "before the cape gave way," said Stanton, who treated the young Caped Crusader in the emergency room for cuts and bruises. Bottom line: overly long costumes can be hazardous to your health.