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5 Trick or Treat Safety Tips

halloween-72939_640Whether you're going trick or treating with the kids, or you're giving away candy, here are some ways to stay safe and avoid a real scare on Halloween night.

Trick or Treating Securely

A safe journey begins before you hit the street.

1. Costumes

What everyone wears and how they wear it affects their comfort and their safety.

  • Costumes shouldn't be too big or too small.  To avoid trips and rips, they also shouldn't be too long.
  • Everyone's footwear should also fit properly and be tied well.
  • Masks shouldn't cover kids' eyes, ears, noses, or mouths.
  • Make sure hats and scarves are well tied.
  • Be seen: Buy light or bright costumes.  Have everyone wear reflective tape on his or her costumes, their shoes, and on their bags.  Use flashlights.
  • Make sure all apparel is flame-retardant; all-cotton items can burn quickly. Makeup can be a good alternative to a mask, but an allergic reaction can be a danger.  Use non-toxic makeup and test it on a small patch of skin at least a day or two before dressing up.
  • To avoid eye infections and injuries, see an optometrist for advice about wearing decorative contact lenses.
  • Props, such as swords, should be blunt, flexible, short, soft, and easy to carry.

2. Planning Your Routes

To prevent getting lost, everyone should flock together in familiar neighborhoods.

  • Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest crosswalks.
  • Everyone should carry a cellphone and identification.
  • Don't let children enter strangers' homes alone.
  • Advise children never to accept rides from strangers.
  • Visit only well-lit homes.
  • Older kids: if they will be going without you, set preplanned routes so you know where they will be, and curfews so they don't stay out too late, and so you know when to look for them if they're not home.

3. Walking Safety

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), four times more children are hit by cars on Halloween night than on any other night of the year.

  • Children under 12 should cross streets with an adult.
  • Review rules for crossing streets: look both ways and make eye contact with any drivers before crossing, walk, don't run, use crosswalks only, and don't walk between cars.
  • Walk on sidewalks or paths.  If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
  • Watch for cars that are turning or backing up.
  • When approaching homes, don't walk across lawns, where kids can hit ornaments and other objects.

4. Candy

Inspect the treats your child receives before he or she eats.

  • Throw away candy or fruit that isn't wrapped or in its original packaging.
  • Inspect wrapped candy for pinholes, discolorations, and tears; when in doubt, throw it out.
  • If it's something homemade, unless you know the baker, throw it away.
  • Remove all choking hazards for small children or items your children can be allergic to; these can include nuts, hard candies, small toys, and chewing gum.
  • Prevent stomachaches: give your kids snacks before you leave and discourage snacking while trick or treating, so they won't get sick from eating too much candy.

Treating Tricksters

5. Leaving a Light on

As the saying goes, safety begins at home.

  • Walkways should be well lit and easy to get to; clear debris from paths, porches, your steps, and your yard.
  • Contain any pets.
  • Keep lit jack-o-lanterns, lights or candles away from steps, curtains, furniture, and decorations -- or use battery powered alternatives.
  • Consider giving out treats that aren't likely to cause allergies or choking.

If you keep alert and plan ahead, this Halloween it should be easy for you and the kids to stay safe and have a "spook-tacular" time.

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