Autumn safety tips

Two little kid boys with bicycles in autumn parkWith the fall season upon us, we wanted to share some fall and Halloween information that will keep you safe and trauma free this season.

Decorating

Decorating for Fall and Halloween has become as popular as decorating for Christmas. Keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Ladders – when using a ladder, it is recommended to use a broad-based ladder; be sure to follow any weight restrictions on the ladder – most injuries from ladders result when the ladder cannot support the weight; never work on a ladder alone. Always have someone with you who can assist or call 911 should a fall occur
  • Candles – this is the season when everyone loves to burn candles with all the various scents. When burning candles, be sure to put them in a safe place which is usually UP HIGH where they cannot be easily knocked over and where children cannot reach them; never leave a burning candle unattended, and be sure to extinguish candles fully when finished with them
  • Plugs – be cautious not to overload electrical outlets with too many plugs as this can lead to a house fire; also if using an extension cord, be sure to keep it out of the main walkways and high traffic areas to avoid trips or falls 

Pumpkin Carving

These days, pumpkin carving has become an art form.

  • Carving Kits – many of the pumpkin carving kits found at your local stores come with various saws and blades – some even have a drill for the blades. These can easily lead to cuts and other injuries; be cautious when using these tools and never let a child carve a pumpkin unsupervised
  • Painting – painting and stickers/appliques have become very popular and can be a fun (and safer) way to decorate your pumpkins

Trick or treating

Children love to trick or treat – and it’s fun. So just be safe when doing it by knowing these helpful hints:

  • Masks – you don’t want to obstruct your view when trick or treating. Some masks can be big, uncomfortable and can block your vision. This could lead to a fall especially in dark and possibly wet conditions. If at all possible, use makeup or wigs instead
  • Lighting – make sure to have good lighting: cute, decorative flashlights may be more for looks than functionality. Be sure to have a good flashlight if trick or treating in the dark; most cell phones have a flash light built in and will provide appropriate lighting; also wear reflective gear when possible
  • Pedestrians – be careful when out on the roads. Hybrid cars these days are small and quiet. They are not easily seen or heard. Make sure children are supervised at all times when trick or treating especially when crossing streets
  • Choking – children should not eat candy while trick or treating. This can be a choking hazard as many times they are running or playing and may not be directly supervised while going from house to house

Burn Safety

UofL Hospital is home to the only adult burn unit in the state. 

  • Burning leaves and brush – to avoid burning yourself, your house or yard – NEVER use an accelerant when burning brush AS it’s burning. If you are going to use an accelerant, be sure to add it BEFORE you set the fire; otherwise the fire will follow that stream and could cause an explosion of the can in your hand, which could lead to a severe burn or injury
  • Pilot lights – as the weather starts to get chilly, many will be turning on the heat in their homes. If you do not know how to light your pilot light, contact your local heating service. They will be glad to assist. If you do light your pilot light yourself, please use caution. There could be a gas leak or build up that could ignite when you strike the match
  • Smoke detectors – it’s that time of year to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors. 10-year lithium battery smoke detectors are recommended as are carbon monoxide detectors. If you don’t know how or where to obtain these, contact your local fire department

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About Theresa Baker

Theresa Baker, RN, BSN, is the trauma outreach and prevention coordinator for UofL Hospital, where she has worked for more than 23 years. Theresa has been a nurse since 1976, specializing in pediatric and adult burns/trauma. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University Southeast. She is a certified burn nurse, Trauma Nursing Core Course director, instructor and faculty, Advanced Trauma Life Support course coordinator, Advanced Burn Life Support instructor, director and faculty, Rural Trauma Team Development course coordinator. She is a member of the Emergency Nurses Association, American Burn Association and Society of Trauma Nurses. Along with her education courses, she has received awards for the injury prevention program called Straight Talk, a juvenile intervention arson program. Some of her ongoing events include the Kentucky Statewide Trauma and Emergency Medicine Symposium, Annual EMS Conference, Rural Healthcare Training Conferences and multiple trauma education lectures throughout Kentucky, Southern Indiana and nationally.

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