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Halloween Safety Tips
by Mark A. Brandenburg, MD
Children love to dress up in costumes because it lets them express their imagination and creativity. Halloween is a day when they can do just that. And getting lots of candy while "trick-or-treating" is a wonderful bonus that just adds to the fun. Halloween does have a few dangers, but none that a few basic safety measures can't eliminate.

Costumes

When planning a safe Halloween, first consider all parts of your child's costume. Be sure the clothing and accessories allow for safe trick-or-treating.
  • Be sure the costume and accessories (i.e., masks, wigs, beards and hats) are made of flame-resistant material and that no flammable objects are included.

  • Watch out for flammable decorations. Outdoor jack-o'-lanterns have caught many a kid's costume on fire.

  • Masks should be soft and comfortable so as not to abrade a child's face and eyes. They should also be snug enough so they don't fall down over the eyes and obstruct vision. A well-fitting mask allows for a full field of vision.

  • If you can, avoid a mask all-together. Make-up is preferable to a mask because it allows better vision.

  • Swords, knives, magic wands and the like should not have sharp edges and should be made of soft flexible material that will not cause injury when played with.

  • Shoes must be comfortable and properly sized. Your child's tennis shoes are best. Never allow a child to wear adult shoes or high-healed shoes. Improper footwear can cause children to trip and may hamper their running away if a stranger approaches.
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Pedestrian Injuries
There are several common ways that children are injured during the festive search for candy on Halloween. Auto-pedestrian accidents are responsible for the most serious accidents. Injuries related to falls are not as likely to cause major injury, but they are quite common.
  • A costume should be comfortable and hemmed to a length that won't cause tripping.

  • Give your child a flashlight to carry for better visibility; this will also allow others to see her.

  • Teach your child to stay on sidewalks or at the curbside and never to dart out into a street.

  • Use light-colored and reflective fabric to make costumes- this will allow motorists to better spot kids walking down neighborhood streets or sidewalks.

  • Teach your child never to run at night and to stay on lighted sidewalks, streets, and driveways.

  • Instruct kids not to travel across people's yards where obstacles such as flower pots, yard tools, stairs, curbs and other tripping hazards may not be clearly visible.
Stranger Dangers
A child who walks alone on Halloween is vulnerable to predators.
  • Be sure your child travels with a group of other kids (or with you or another trusted adult)- never alone.

  • Never let a stranger get within arm's reach. Remind your child to practice the rules of stranger safety and teach your youngster to approach only those homes of families you know well and whose porch lights are turned on.
Candy Safety
The candy received while trick-or-treating can also be dangerous. Follow these few simple rules when sacks of treats are brought home.
  • Instruct your child never to eat Halloween candy until you have inspected it.

  • Throw away any unwrapped candy, fruits or drinks collected by your child--it could be tainted.

  • Choking on small candy is a danger, so keep such treats away from children less than six years of age.

  • If you have children less than six years old, lock the candy up and pass it out at your discretion. Give out small amounts to lessen the chance that the younger children get a hold of it.
Written by Mark A. Brandenburg, MD, author of CHILD SAFE: A Practical Guide for Preventing Childhood Injuries. CHILD SAFE is also a terrific gift for grandparents, nannies, baby sitters and all other child care providers. Dr. Brandenburg is an Emergency Physician at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Board Certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM).



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