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The Trick to Halloween Is to Make It a Treat

Follow these safety tips when trick-or-treating

THURSDAY, Oct. 31, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- When all the wee goblins and ghouls come out tonight to celebrate Halloween, make sure the scares and frights are only imaginary.

To ensure trick-or-treaters have a safe evening, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Los Angeles Fire Department offer the following tips.

DRESS SAFELY:

  • Wear costumes that are bright and reflective. They should fit well and be short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame. Consider adding reflective tape to trick-or-treat bags and costumes to improve visibility.
  • Attach emergency identification that includes name, address and telephone number discreetly inside a child's costume or on a bracelet.
  • Masks can block or limit vision. Consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Purchase only flame-resistant costumes, wigs and accessories.
  • Children and their escorts should carry flashlights with fresh batteries.
  • Teach children to call 9-1-1 or their local emergency number in case they get lost. Remind children that they can dial 9-1-1 free at any pay phone.
  • Plan and review any acceptable routes with your children, and agree on a time when they should be home. Children and adult escorts should wear wristwatches and carry coins to make non-emergency phone calls.

PUMPKIN CARVING:

  • Under parents' supervision, children aged 5 to 10 can carve a jack-o-lantern with pumpkin cutters equipped with safety bars. Younger children shouldn't carve pumpkins, but they can draw a face with markers and then parents can do the carving.
  • Votive candles are the safest choice for pumpkins. Lighted pumpkins should be set on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects. Lighted pumpkins should never be left unattended.

HOME SAFETY:

  • Remove any objects that trick-or-treaters might trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn ornaments. Check your outdoor lighting and replace any burned-out light bulbs. Sweep wet leaves from sidewalks and steps.
  • Don't overload electrical outlets when decorating or creating special effects.
  • Remind all household drivers to be cautious and drive slowly on Halloween.

HEALTHY HALLOWEEN:

  • Make sure children eat a good meal before they go trick-or-treating or to parties to discourage them from eating too many Halloween treats.
  • Consider buying non-food treats to hand out to trick-or-treaters.
  • Sort and check treats with your children after they get home. Throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
  • Try to portion treats over the days after Halloween. Make sure that treats such as hard candies are consumed only by children of an appropriate age.

TRICK-OR-TREATING:

  • A parent or responsible young adult should always accompany young children.
  • Only go to homes with a porch light on, stay on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk at the farthest edge of the roadway facing traffic. Obey all traffic and pedestrian regulations. Always walk, never run across a street. Only cross streets as a group at established crosswalks.
  • Don't cut across yards or use alleys. Never enter a stranger's car or home for a treat.
  • Remove any mask or item that limits eyesight before crossing a street, driveway or alley. Don't assume the right of way. Drivers may have trouble seeing you. Just because one car stops doesn't mean others will.
  • Don't consume any unwrapped food or beverages.
  • Notify police about any suspicious or unlawful activity.

More information

Here are some more Halloween safety tips from the Red Cross and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics, news release, October 2002
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