13 of the scariest health hazards of Halloween

(CNN)Americans go batty for Halloween. We’re not afraid to dig deep to have a howling good time.

Dressing up as spooks and monsters, such those in Fortnite (this year’s most popular costume), will gobble up $3.2 billion in temporary apparel without even a bloodcurdling scream. Ghoulish decorations will slurp up another $2.7 billion, while candy will drain a mere $2.6 billion from our veins lives.
What’s truly petrifying: The very items we purchase to have a frightfully fun holiday can help maim (or even kill) us and our loved ones if not used with caution.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

1. Deadly day for kids

The statistics are shocking. Children are twice as likely to die on Halloween than any other day of the year as they trick-or-treat along our streets. That’s according to a 2012 State Farm analysis of more than 4 million fatalities between 1990 and 2010.
An older study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was even scarier: Children were four times more likely to die on All Hallows’ Eve while walking.
More than a quarter of the deaths occurred between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., State Farm found, with 70% happening in the middle of the block, away from a crosswalk or intersection.
Parents should make sure their child’s costume sports reflective tape, and kids should carry a flashlight or glow stick. Children should not trick-or-treat alone, but in groups with parental supervision. Even then, parents need to be on guard: Excited children can easily sprint ahead and forget to look both ways.
These fatalities are not just among little kids, either. Most of the pedestrian deaths occurred among those between ages 12 and 15, followed by ages 5 to 8. Young people should be cautioned about the distractions of cell phone use and follow other safety guidelines, including use of flashlights.

2. Killer buzz

So who is responsible for most of those pedestrian deaths? You guessed it — drivers who drank or partied too much. And you don’t have to “feel” drunk or stoned to be impaired. As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says: “Buzzed driving is drunk driving.”
NHTSA statistics show that during a four-year period, 14% of all pedestrian deaths on Halloween involved drunken drivers. Overall, the agency says Halloween drunk-driving fatalities are on the rise, with 44% of all people killed in car crashes on Halloween night involving a drunk driver.
Sadly, young adult drivers aged 15 to 25 were responsible for the majority of pedestrian deaths of children, according to the State Farm analysis. Safety experts suggest keeping young, inexperienced drivers off the road on Halloween, and of course, be alert for signs of alcohol abuse.

3. Demon allergies

One in 13 children under the age of 18 in the United States has food allergies. Chances are high one of those kids will visit your house for a treat.
Milk, eggs, peanuts, soy, wheat, tree nuts, fish and shellfish are responsible for 90% of allergic reactions, according to the Food Allergy Research and Education group. Some of those reactions can be deadly.
Many candies are off limits for children, either because they contain one of the top allergens or because of the danger of cross contamination.
To meet the needs of all your trick-or-treaters, you can join the Teal Pumpkin project, which suggests having non-food treats on hand, such as glow sticks, bubbles, stickers or markers. Then hang a teal pumpkin outside your home so kids with allergies will know you are allergy-safe.

4. Fire hazards

Even if you’re dressed as the devil, you don’t want to burn. Yet fire hazards abound on Halloween, as people use sandbag candles and fiery jack-o’-lanterns to decorate their homes and walkways.
By law, all costumes, wigs, masks and other accessories sold in the US are required to be made of flame-resistant materials. You’ll know they are if they are labeled “flame resistant.”That won’t stop them from burning, says the Consumer Product Safety Commission, but they will be easier to extinguish once removed from the fire source.
If you make your costume, be sure to use flame-resistant cloth as well. Nylon and polyester are good choices. If you use more flammable materials such as cotton, add a fire-retardant spray to the costume and all of its bits and pieces.
Too much trouble? There’s a startling video produced by the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service in the United Kingdom where children’s costumes are still considered toys and making them fire-resistant is voluntary for manufacturers. While dramatic music plays, a suited-up firefighter lights child’s costume after costume. Within seconds, each costume bursts into flames and is consumed within minutes.
“If your child is wearing one of these costumes, keep them away from naked flames,” the video suggests before it ends. Use battery-powered candles to reduce the risk, the video suggests.

5. Revenge of the jack-o’-lantern

Pumpkin carving takes the lead each year over other Halloween injuries, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Out of an estimated 4,500 Halloween related injuries reported during October and November last year, 41% were related to pumpkin carving.
Safety experts suggest putting the sharp kitchen knives aside and using only the small pumpkin carving tools that come in kits, which are designed to minimize injuries.

6. Trick or trip

Tripping or falling wins second place for most common Halloween injury, says the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Getting tangled in the long legs of ill-fitting costumes is a key reason; costume masks can also be part of the problem.
Many gruesome monster heads are ill-fitting, with poorly cut eye holes that limit vision. Ghostly sheets can both obstruct eyesight and become tripping hazards. Be sure whatever you wear or put on your kids will allow full range of eyesight and has been altered to prevent tripping before you head out the door.
Experts also suggest using face paint (carefully) instead of masks for better vision. Another tip: Never ride your bike or skateboard or skate wearing a costume.

7. Falling down on the job

In addition to tripping, falling off a ladder or other height ties for second most common injury during Halloween, says the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Most occur while putting up or taking down Halloween decorations, most likely because of poor ladder safety skills.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission devotes an entire page to Ladder Safety 101. Some of the highlights:
  • Choose a ladder with slip-resistant feet that extends at least 3 feet over the roofline.
  • Place it on firm and level ground. If it’s not, buy leg levelers at the hardware store.
  • Make sure the ladder can support your weight and have a helper hold it at the bottom.
  • Don’t use a metal ladder near any power lines or electrical equipment.

8. Pokes in the eye

What’s a pirate without a sword? Luke Skywalker without his lightsaber? Harry Potter without his wand?
Your child (and the child in you) will likely push back if you try to limit accessorizing that special Halloween outfit, but be aware of the dangers. Just like sticks, pointed props such as swords, spears and wands can poke out the eyes of excited children (or adults) gathered too close.
Considering that falls account for nearly a third of all Halloween-related injuries, that pointy object could just as easily end up in your child’s eye, or someone else’s.
Safety experts suggest trying to purchase softer, more flexible versions of a necessary prop for a safe, but stylish Halloween.

9. Out-of-this-world eyes

Your outfit demands “creature-of-the-underworld” eyes to make it suitably eerie. And you’ve found some cheap costume contacts online that would work perfectly.
Before you plop those into your eyes, beware: They could contain chlorine, iron and other harmful chemicals, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Many of the decorative contacts sold online and in gas stations and beauty parlors are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. They could easily contain harmful colorants used to create tints and patterns on the surface of the lens. A study in Japan, where decorative contacts are popular, found those chemicals could remain even after rinsing with water.
The lens-making process can also leave uneven, scratchy surfaces that might not be visible but could scratch your cornea. Germs could then enter and infect the eye, creating scarring that can damage vision and cause blindness.
To drive home the dangers, the American Academy of Ophthalmology shares the story of Julian Hamlin, who at 17 ruined his eyes with $20 over-the-counter contacts. Ten surgeries later, he’s still blind in one eye, and continues to suffer from eye infections and glaucoma in the other.

10. Beware of face paint

Don’t turn that clown smile upside-down. Check how your skin will react to face paint before you slather your face with it. Applying a small bit on your arm a day or two before could save a lot of scratching, swelling, redness and embarrassment if you end up being allergic, the FDA advises.
The FDA does approve color additives in face paint and theatrical makeup and creates rules about where they should be applied on the body. A color that’s OK for hair or nails, it says, might not be good for the skin.
To be sure if a Halloween makeup is safe, the FDA suggests checking the Summary of Color Additives on their website. If the color on the label of the product isn’t on their list, “the company that made it is not obeying the law. Don’t use it,” warns the agency.

11. There goes the dental work

As the American Dental Association says: “Be picky if it’s sticky.” Caramels, taffy, gummies and other chewy candies stick to the teeth longer, contributing to cavities, but they are also notorious for pulling out fillings and crowns. Sticky, gummy candy and braces? What a tangled web you’d weave with that.
On the opposite end, hard candies can also be bad for your teeth. They also last longer in the mouth, contributing to decay, and you can break a tooth if you chomp down too hard. Hard candies can also damage brackets and other appliances that hold braces together.
What do dentists recommend? Chocolate is good because it’s soft and leaves the mouth rather quickly. Just be sure to brush and floss.
Another tip: Eat Halloween candy just after meals. Saliva production increases during meals and helps rinse away food particles and bacteria, the ADA says.

12. Careful with candy

Nine out of 10 Americans believe chocolate and candy make Halloween more fun, according to a survey released by the National Confectioners Association. And since Americans are expected to dish out 2.6 billion dollars on candy this year, we certainly plan to have a LOT of fun.
Of course, that means a LOT of extra calories. Even “fun size” candies, which have become the standard Halloween giveaway, contain a deceptively high calorie count, considering their tiny size.
Takefun-sizeM&Ms. A bag of originals contains 73 calories. Add peanuts and it’s 90 calories. There are 80 calories each in Twix, Almond Joy, Milky Way and Snickers fun size bars; Butterfinger and Baby Ruth have 85. Fun size Skittles have 60 calories. And that favorite nibble, candy corn, is seven calories … each. But who eats just one?
So if one candy splurge consisted of one of each of the candies above, plus about 30 candy corns, you’ll have taken in 923 fun-sized calories.
To burn off that really fun time, you’d have to do about three hours of walking, biking, dancing or golf, or about 4.5 hours of light weight training. Having a blast yet?

13. A deadly snack for Fido or Fluffy

Halloween candy can be deadly for your dog or cat. No candy is healthy, but anything that’s sugar-free, or contains raisins or chocolate can quickly cause seizures, even organ failure.
“Pets are 32% more likely to experience food poisoning during Halloween week,” said Cara Meglio, content and communications manager for Petplan, a pet insurance company.
It can be all too easy for your pet to sneak a snack while your children inspect their haul, so be sure to put your furry friend in another room before bringing out the sweet stuff.

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If pets do get hold of raisins, sugar-free candy or chocolate, call your vet immediately. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has a poison hot line, too: (888) 426-4435.
If poisoned, your pet might need his or her stomach pumped. According to Petplan, the average cost of treatment for food poisoning last year was $730.17, but can easily rise to $1,100 or more depending on the severity of the poisoning and any complications.
Pet costumes are a growing trend, especially among millennials, says the National Retail Federation’s annual survey. Choose costumes that aren’t too restrictive, especially around the throat, say vets, and beware of loose costume bits that can be chewed off and swallowed.
Those, along with lollipop sticks, glow sticks and foil or cellophane wrappers can create digestive blockages you might not notice for days. In 2017 the average cost of surgical removal of a foreign object lodged in the intestinesof a pet was $2,062.13. “As with food poisoning cases, more severe or complicated occurrences can cost much more,” said Petplan’s Meglio.

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/26/health/halloween-health-risks/index.html

The final finisher: The inspiring stories of last-place marathon runners

(CNN)When Simon Kindleysides crossed the finish line at the Virgin Money London Marathon this year, what followed was a blur — but he became a “superhero” to his kids, and he set a world record in becoming the first paralyzed man to complete the race on foot.

When David Fraser crossed the finish line at the TCS New York City Marathon last year, it marked his 10th time completing that race, using his toes to push his wheelchair to the finish line.
He was the final finisher.
When Amina Abdul-Jalil crossed the finish line this year at an inaugural half-marathon in Atlanta called The Race, she never felt more proud. She accomplished something she didn’t think she could with asthma, but because of her history of depression, running has been a “lifesaver.”
She was the final finisher.
Lisa Jackson has run 110 marathons and ultramarathons around the world. After each, she has a tradition of sleeping with the new medal around her neck to celebrate her accomplishment.
In 25 of those races, she was the final finisher — and she revels in coming in last.

The history of running records

The world often hears the inspiring stories of elite athletes who finish first after running 26.2 miles in marathon races. For instance, Olympic medalist Shalane Flanagan broke the finish line tape at the New York City Marathon last year, becoming the first American woman to do so in 40 years. This year’s marathon is scheduled to kick off Sunday morning.
Yet there are equally inspiring stories among the athletes who make up the back of the pack. As Peter Ciaccia, director of the New York City Marathon, puts it, “for every runner, there’s a story.”
“They have their own reasons why they’re doing what they’re doing and they’re putting in all that time and energy to train,” he said. “Every one of those folks that crossed the finish line are inspiring, from the first to the final finish.”
On average, it takes bout 4½ hours for men and women to complete a marathon, Ciaccia said, but that time can vary drastically among racers.
In honor of Sunday’s New York City Marathon, where more than 50,000 people traveled through the five boroughs, here are four inspirational stories from the last racers in half- and full marathons.
One thing they have in common: They never gave up.

‘Even when I was able-bodied, I took plenty for granted’

As Simon Kindleysides, 34,took his first steps in the London Marathon in April, it felt as if magic was in the air.
“As we were walking toward the first mile, we actually started blending in with all the runners,” he said. “Everyone was on the streets, cheering, and that was a magical moment.”
As time went on, the crowds and other racers dispersed. Kindleysides and his team of eight supporters continued walking.
Kindleysides, who is paralyzed from the waist down and typically uses a wheelchair, was equipped with an exoskeleton to help him walk. His supporters walked with him to change the batteries in his exoskeleton so he could keep moving.
“I can walk up to four miles consecutively on one charge of the battery,” he said.
In 2013, Kindleysides was diagnosed with a brain tumor — a benign glioma — that was growing in a way that pressed on certain nerves, leading to him losing feeling in his legs. He was told he would never walk again.
Before his paralysis, the London-based singer and dancer had “always wanted to run a marathon,” he said, but he never made the plans to do so — until this year.
“Even when I was able-bodied, I took plenty for granted,” Kindleysides said. “You realize the time you wasted on things you didn’t need to waste your time on.”
During the London Marathon, the last two miles were the hardest.
“At that point, I was exhausted. It was freezing cold, and I was hurting and emotional,” Kindleysides said, but he kept going.
“I guess I didn’t want to let people down. I had a team of eight of us, and I was raising money for The Brain Tumour Charity,” he said. “I didn’t want to let them down, myself down, and I thought if I’d get this far, I’d have to continue.”
So he continued and made history as the first paralyzed man to complete the London Marathon on foot.
Once Kindleysides crossed the finish line, a live news crew interviewed him, and “I said, ‘I need a full body massage and a Jägerbomb.’ I pinch myself. Why would I say that on live TV? I don’t know. I wasn’t really thinking,” he said. “My brain went mashed potato.”
Then, recovering at home, he shared his accomplishment with his three children.
“I was called RoboCop, Terminator and every superhero you can possibly imagine,” Simon said.
“They used to say I’m the only dad in their whole school who’s in a wheelchair, and now they say I’m their dad, the only one who has walked a marathon,” he said. “It was amazing, emotional, just to think I’d done it and to prove anything is possible. … There’s no such thing as can’t.”
Kindleysides is training to complete three more marathons next year, including the London Marathon again.
Meanwhile, a final finisher in the United States is preparing to run his 11th New York City Marathon on Sunday.

‘Every year, I run the race for my wife’

David Fraser, who was born with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, had competed in the New York Marathon before. Racing wasn’t new to him, but being the final finisher last year was — and he enjoyed the moment.
Fraser said that last year he was focused on his personal training company and didn’t devote as much time to training for the marathon as he normally does.
“My wife and my kids were there. They meet me at the end of my race every year, and they couldn’t believe I was the last one, because I had done many races. I had done 5K, I had done half-marathons, I had even done ultras — but never have I done that,” said the 51-year-old New Yorker who owns a company called Nightwarriors Fitness.
“But you know what? They were happy to see me complete it,” he said of his family. “At the start of every marathon, I have one goal — and my goal is to complete it. I don’t care about time. I care about completing the race.”
Cerebral palsy, a group of disorders that affect muscle coordination and body movement, impacts much of Fraser’s body — but that hasn’t stopped him from pursuing his love of fitness.
Before 2007, he spent much of his free time weightlifting and bodybuilding, but that year, his co-workers challenged him to run the New York Marathon. He took on the challenge and completed the race.
He has set out to finish it every year since.
“That next year, 2008, my wife developed stomach cancer, and now every year, I run the race for my wife,” said Fraser, whose wife still attends his races.
He even developed a strategy: “Ninety percent of the race, I do backwards,” he said. “Because when I go downhill, I go forward, but when I go uphill and when I do even terrain, I go backwards. … I always run that way.”
Overall, Fraser said, “The thing that’s the most difficult part of running a marathon is not the physical. The most difficult part is the mental. The reason is because when your body gives up and you are done, really done, you now have to talk yourself back into it.”
Fraser is preparing to complete the New York Marathon on Sunday, and he’s looking forward to the race.
“All runners are out of their minds,” he joked. “Think about it. Who gets up early in the morning to run 26.2 miles? But we love it.”
As for one runner in Atlanta, not only does she love it, it has been a “lifesaver.”

‘There’s nothing I would change’

Amina Abdul-Jalil started running last year, around the time her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I realized in that time, I don’t think it was even the whole month, that I had gained 10 pounds, and I was just stressed, and I thought, ‘I need to do something now, or this isn’t going to end well,’ ” Abdul-Jalil said.
So she joined a running group called Black Girls Run.
“To be completely honest, it’s been a lifesaver in a very real way, because I have major depressive disorder,” she said.

Exercise may help reduce depression

Regular exercise such as running can help curb symptoms of depression, something that Abdul-Jalil said she noticed firsthand.
As she continued running with the group, an opportunity arose to join in an inaugural half-marathon in Atlanta called The Race, but Abdul-Jalil was hesitant. Then she saw a video clip of ultramarathon runner Mirna Valerio, a runner with a body type similar to her own.
“I was like, ‘she runs like me’ — and that was a big moment for me,” Abdul-Jalil said. “So I was like ‘maybe, maybe, maybe I could pull this off.’ “
Then she registered for The Race and trained for 12 weeks.

Runner leads the way for overweight athletes

Abdul-Jalil and I both ran that half-marathon last month. Watching her finish the race is what inspired me to seek out the stories of final finishers. She told me that she ran the race simply to see whether she could do it.
“Running is something that I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do because I was a kid with horrible asthma,” said the 41-year-old mother, who lives in the Atlanta area.
“And I’m not FloJo-built,” she added, referencing late track-and-field athlete Florence Griffith-Joyner, who holds the 100-meter and 200-meter dash world records for women.
Over the 13.1-mile course, Abdul-Jalil listened to a playlist that included songs like Twenty One Pilots’ “Ride” and Outkast’s “B.O.B.”
Around mile three, a medical director approached her, indicating that her pace was such that the finish line might close before she got there. If that were to happen, Abdul-Jalil might not receive medical assistance if she needed it, the medical director said.
In that moment, Abdul-Jalil felt discouraged.
“I wanted to cry and quit, and it took maybe another two miles to get that out of my head,” she said. To keep her going, she thought about the running group, Black Girls Run.
“I literally went back to conversations that I’ve had,” she said. “Every time I said I can’t do something, there was at least one or two other people that said I could.”
So she kept going.

“Black girls run” organize to fight obesity

“By the last two miles, it was just me,” Abdul-Jalil said.
Then, during the last mile, a race administrator and volunteer met her on the course and ran with her to the finish. They even posted a live video of her finish on Facebook, to celebrate her as the last runner.
A couple of days later, Abdul-Jalil watched the video, which has gotten more than 2,000 views.
With her depression, Abdul-Jalil sometimes replays sad experiences or picks apart moments in her life — but after watching the video of her finish, “that’s one external replay or something that has happened in my life where I don’t pick it apart,” she said. “There’s nothing I would change.”
Before the race, “I had given myself a really hard time — ‘Oh, my God, what if I’m the last person?’ — and now it’s something that I would do again,” she said. “You don’t have to fit X mold to be great and to be celebrated. It’s validating.”
Being the final finisher is something that one runner in London not only would do again, but has done 25 times.

‘It’s not about the time you do but the time you have’

Lisa Jackson loves being the last runner.
“I think it’s a special place in the race,” said the London-based author of the book “Your Pace or Mine? What Running Taught Me About Life, Laughter and Coming Last.”
“When you’re last, it’s a sense of occasion. People really admire you for your grit when getting there,” she said.
Jackson, 51, was “incredibly unathletic” as a child and ran her first marathon when she was 31.
“After the indescribable feeling of accomplishment and joy, I thought, ‘I have to experience this feeling every year, at least once,’ ” she said, and so she set out to run at least one marathon annually.
“When I first started running, my biggest fear was coming last,” Jackson said. “And it was actually my 31st marathon — the South Downs Marathon — when I was the final finisher for the first time.”
Jackson ran the South Downs trail marathon in the UK in June 2012. The course was hilly, the summer heat was grueling, and she wanted to give up — but she kept running.
Jackson realized that she was the last runner when she saw a man on a bicycle taking down the distance markers along the course, she said. They spoke as she continued on her way, and she made a friend.
Next thing she knew, she was approaching the finish line, where other runners and race organizers gave her a standing ovation.
“I no longer have any fear of coming last, and if there’s a risk of coming second to last, I try to drop back a little to ensure I’m in last place as we cross the line,” Jackson said.
After all, in that moment on the South Downs, she realized that when runners are not stressed about their time, the people they can encounter and the relationships that form can make a race that much more worthwhile.

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“My philosophy with running is that it’s not about the time you do but the time you have,” said Jackson, who went on to run the New York, Boston, London, Chicago and Rome marathons, among dozens of others.
“I think it’s really funny when people feel sorry for me for coming in last. … I think, ‘well, how many races have you run?’ ” she joked.
“When you do something that is not easy and you think you’re not cut out for and you succeed at it, it gives you so much courage in other aspects of your life,” she said. “Running is really the most life-affirming, energizing thing you can do. Don’t let the fear of coming last put you off. Every race needs a winner and a loser, and it might as well be you.”

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/04/health/marathon-runners-last-place-profile/index.html