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Have a Healthy Halloween

Experts offer safety advice for trick-or-treaters

TUESDAY, Oct. 28, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Keep all your little ghouls and goblins safe and healthy this Halloween by following these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Outfit your children in costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure your children's shoes fit well and their costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
  • Add reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags to make your child more visible.
  • Masks can limit or block eyesight. Consider using non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives.
  • Only purchase costumes, wigs and accessories with labels that clearly say they are flame-resistant.
  • Provide children and their escorts with flashlights that are loaded with fresh batteries.
  • Plan and review with your children an acceptable route and agree on a specific time when they should return home.
  • A good meal before trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats as they make their rounds.
  • Teach children how to call 9-1-1 or their local emergency number.
  • Don't let small children to carve pumpkins. They can draw the face on the pumpkin and the parents can do the cutting. Under parents' supervision, children aged 5 to 10 can join in the fun.
  • Votive candles are safest for candle-lit pumpkins. Lighted pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.
  • Remove anything -- such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations -- that may pose a tripping hazard to trick-or-treaters. Check your outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs. Sweep wet leaves from sidewalks and steps.
  • Consider buying non-food treats for trick-or-treaters, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
  • When your children arrive home, sort and check their treats. Throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
  • Portion out treats to your children following Halloween. Choking hazards, such as hard candies, should be given only to children of an appropriate age.

Here are some additional safety tips from the Los Angeles Fire Department:

  • Trick-or-treaters should always stay in a group and tell parents where they will be going. They should only go to homes with a porch light on and should remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, children should walk at the farthest edge of the roadway facing traffic.
  • Children should never cut across a yard, use alleys or enter a stranger's home or car for a treat.
  • Obey all traffic and pedestrian rules and only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks. Don't assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing trick-or-treaters.
  • Inform police immediately about any suspicious or unlawful activity.

More information

Here's where you can find more Halloween safety tips.

SOURCES: American Academy of Pediatrics and Los Angeles Fire Department, news releases, October 2003
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