I’ve always been amazed at how much build-up and hype there is leading up to Halloween. It’s a fun holiday that allows people to dress up as their favorite things from movies, TV shows, celebrities or even objects. Trick-or-treating is fun as a child, and as we get older only costumes, parties, scary movies and friends seem to surround the holiday. But have you ever thought that your costume choice could end up harming you? I doubt it. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that in the last five years at least 226 people have suffered a costume-related injury and at least five have died.

An article on msnbc.msn.com recently ran about costume mishaps. I never considered the fact that being a sheep last Halloween and gluing cotton balls all over a sweatshirt to wear could end badly. The article reported that a 28-year-old man in Lewiston, Maine didn’t realize this could be a problem either. His sheep costume became a fire hazard. He was hospitalized after it burst into flames when he brushed up against someone holding a cigarette.

This could happen to anyone since many people stand outside of bars and smoke. In the article, Jo B. Paoletti, associate professor of American studies and a costume historian at the University of Maryland, said most injuries occur when people don’t spend the time necessary to really think out and imagine the consequences of their costumes.

You would expect problems to occur with younger kids on Halloween because they might not think about the dangers of wearing a certain fabric or something on their face. However, issues can arise with people of all ages. A 35-year-old man wore a mask made out of metal mesh in 2007 and suffered a black eye and scratches on his cornea when the mask struck his face, according to the article. Paoletti suggests wearing costumes that fit tightly rather than big, flowing costumes. He also suggests conducting a dress rehearsal as a way to foresee costume malfunctions.

How far would you go to have a costume that stands out? All over Oxford this weekend were costumes of all kinds. I saw cotton balls and fur this year as well as wigs, felt dresses and even battery-operated accessories. Even though it may be rare that something with your costume could take a turn for the worst, you might want to consider where you’ll be in your costume to make sure you won’t hurt yourself. I’m not sure it’s worth it to wear a kick-ass costume that may or may not scratch your cornea. It sounds silly, but I guess it really can happen.

Everyone thinks of Halloween as the holiday to dress up and have fun. It is also the holiday of scary movies and haunted houses, but many people don’t think that their own costume could be the scary component to their Halloween weekend. Maybe think twice next year before you throw a costume together.

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