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Dublin: 11°C Sunday 18 April 2021

Bobbing for apples, the silent danger this Halloween

“Attempting to bite the apple at force when dunking their head” can cause injuries to children according to eye doctors.

Avoid this dangerous game this Halloween.
Avoid this dangerous game this Halloween.

HALLOWEEN CAN BE  a busy night for A&E departments around the country. Fireworks, sparklers, bonfires, apple bobbing. Wait, apple bobbing? Yes, apple bobbing.

Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children is warning against the traditional  Halloween game where children dunk their heads into a bucket of water full of apple and try to pull one out with their teeth.

According to Dr Kathyrn McCreer, eye surgeon at the hospital, injuries that can occur “as a result of the child attempting to bite the apple at force when dunking their head.”

She says that possible dangers include scratches on the surface of the eye as well as infections from dirty water and water communally used by a number of children.

The hospital says that although they “are not asking people to avoid fun on this family occasion”, apple bobbing is “best avoided”.

Eye injuries

McCreery says that she sees a variety of eye injuries happening to children at Halloween, most of which are completely avoidable:

The most common accidents I see include corneal abrasions and bleeding in the eye, caused by children being struck in the eye with sharp Halloween accessories such as swords, knives or wands and eye injuries as a result of poor supervision of fireworks and around bonfires.

“Parents need to make sure accessories such as swords and other objects are soft and flexible, and have dulled edges”, she adds.

Other eye injuries that eye doctors in A&E’s departments have to deal with on a busy Halloween night include cigarette burns to the cornea, foreign objects that get under the eye lids, bruising of the eyes and infections as a result of poor removal of children wearing make-up.

“Old make-up is a breeding ground for bacteria,” according to McCreery. Yikes!

Read: The Burning Question*: Is it silly to decorate the house for Halloween? >

Read: Warning over fireworks danger – and €10,000 fine for using them illegally >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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