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Health Tips for October 31

Posted Oct 30 2009 11:01pm

Health Tip: Choosing a Safe Halloween Costume
Suggestions for a safer holiday

It's that time of year -- when the stores are chock-full of skeletons, ghosts, zombies and other youthful disguises.

To help ensure a safe Halloween for children, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission offers these guidelines to help parents choose the right costumes:

  • Make sure costumes fit properly and don't drag on the ground, posing a tripping hazard.
  • Stick a few strips of reflective tape on all costumes, so they're easier to see in the dark. This tape is available at many hardware, sporting goods and bicycle stores.
  • Ask your child to carry a flashlight, and to use it while walking in the dark.
  • Don't allow your child to wear costume shoes (or a parent's shoes).
  • Look for accessories that are soft, flexible and don't pose a danger to others.
  • Opt for face makeup and paint, rather than a mask, which can restrict vision.

Treat Kids to a Safe Halloween
Some simple precautions will safeguard young trick-or-treaters, experts say

There's no trick to keeping children and the rest of the family safe on Halloween. Some simple precautions will ensure that the night is a treat for everyone.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following safety tips:

  • Choose costumes that are bright and reflective and short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame. Add reflective tape or striping to costumes and treat bags to make children more visible.
  • Remember that masks can hinder or block eyesight. Non-toxic makeup and decorative hats are safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over children's eyes.
  • Buy only costumes, wigs and accessories with a label clearly indicating they are flame-resistant.
  • If a sword, cane or stick is part of a child's costume, make sure it's not sharp or too long.
  • Provide children and escorts with flashlights with fresh batteries.
  • Teach children how to call 911 or their local emergency number.
  • Have a parent or responsible adult accompany young children when they're trick-or-treating.
  • If your older children are trick-or-treating alone, review their route and agree on a specific time when they'll return home.
  • Trick-or-treat only at homes with a porch light on. Never enter a home or car for a treat.
  • Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk. If there's no sidewalk, walk at the far edge of the road facing traffic. Never cut across yards or use alleys. Only cross streets at recognized crosswalks. Never cross between parked cars. Never assume the right of way -- it can be difficult for motorists to see trick-or-treaters.
  • When your children return home, sort and check their treats. Throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
  • Allow children to draw faces on pumpkins, but parents should do the carving.
  • Never leave candle-lit pumpkins unattended. Place them on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects. Votive candles are safest for candle-lit pumpkins.
  • Homeowners, remove tripping hazards from the front yard and porch, such as toys, bikes, lawn decorations and garden hoses. Sweep wet leaves from sidewalks and steps, make sure outdoor lights are working, and keep pets under control.

Family Halloween Safety Can Be Fiendishly Simple
Limit trick-or-treating to familiar places, don't take candy from strangers, expert says

With Halloween right around the corner, many parents are wondering how they can help keep their kids safe.

According to Meridith Sonnett, director of pediatric emergency services at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian, taking a few precautions can help make Halloween a happy and safe occasion for everyone.

She particularly recommends limiting trick-or-treating to familiar neighborhoods and neighbors.

Here are more tips parents should keep in mind for Halloween:

  • Accompany your children when they go trick-or-treating.
  • Examine all candy before letting your children eat it.
  • Have your children discard any unwrapped foods.
  • Make sure your children's costumes are non-flammable and short enough so that they don't trip.
  • Make sure the eye holes in masks are the right size and in the right place for clear vision.
  • If your children are old enough to trick-or-treat without a parent, have them go in groups.
  • At night, make sure your children wear costumes that are bright in color, or have them wear reflectors.
  • If the streets are dark, have your children take a flashlight.
  • Accompany your children in apartment buildings.
  • Have your children use proper street-crossing safety.
  • Do not allow your children to enter a stranger's home; have them ask for treats and wait outside the door.

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