HSC Offers Halloween Tips, Warns of Lurking Dangers

Candy corn, costumed kids, and carved pumpkins set the scene for what should be a fun and festive time tonight. To ensure it--and "to make sure your Cinderella or Frankenstein does not get spooked by holiday dangers"--the Home Safety Council suggests keeping these simple tips in mind:

  • Be sure all children under age 12 trick-or-treat with an adult since they may be walking at night and in unfamiliar territory.
  • Only permit trick-or-treating at the homes of friends and neighbors you know well.
  • When purchasing costumes and accessories, buy only those marked "flame retardant" or "flame resistant."
  • Avoid costumes made of long, flowing material and accessories that can move or blow over open flames. If the costume requires altering, sew or tape up a hem at the bottom or even use a belt to hold the costume up.
  • Choose costumes that are light, bright, and clearly visible. Apply reflective tape to the front and back of costumes to help motorists see your child.
  • Avoid costumes that block your child's vision and increase the risk of a fall.
  • Be sure that costume accessories, such as knives and swords, are made of soft, flexible material.
  • To keep vision clear, consider using face paint instead of a mask.
  • Provide your child with a flashlight as part of her costume, to light the way and signal drivers of her presence. Never carry candles, torches, or other open flames as part of a costume.
  • Be sure that shoelaces are tied tight so they don't present a falling hazard. Pumpkins on neighbors' steps and porches can also trip kids up.
  • Make sure all children in the group carry an ID card that includes their name, address and emergency phone numbers (including area code), in case they get separated from the group.
  • Stress the importance of walking, not running, from house to house, especially after dark. Children should not cross yards and lawns where hidden objects can cause falling incidents.
  • Examine all treats thoroughly before allowing children to eat them.
  • Throw away open treats, those not in their original wrapping, and homemade goodies from unknown sources.
  • Slice open fruit to check for foreign objects.
  • Contact the Poison Control Center Hotline if you believe your child has consumed anything hazardous. The national hotline number is 1-800-222-1222. Notify local police of any suspicious candy.
  • Tell children to sit down when they eat and to take small bites.
  • Young children should never help carve a pumpkin. As an alternative, decorate pumpkins with markers, paint, or stickers.

Whether in your own home or a neighbor's, parents should be aware of any decorations that can pose fire, falling, or choking hazards. Spooky decorations may pique your child's interest and make them want to explore, so make sure to keep decorations with small, loose parts out of young children's reach.

When hosting trick-or-treaters at your home, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Do not use candles when decorating porches to prevent costumes from catching fire. Light jack-o-lanterns with small flashlights instead of candles.
  • Only burn candles when an adult is in the room and paying attention. Put them in a place that is well out of the reach of children. Blow the candles out when adults leave the room or go to sleep. If you have children in your home, store candles, and especially matches and lighters out of their sight and reach in a locked cabinet.
  • Provide bright walkway and porch lighting to help prevent falls. Make sure your lawn is clear of things that could be tripped over, such as pumpkins, ladders, garden hoses, flowerpots, bikes, and animal leashes.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets with holiday lighting or special effects, and do not block exit doors.
  • Do not use dry ice as a special effect as it can cause severe injury if eaten.
  • Offer treats wrapped in their original packages.
  • If you decorate your home with candles, keep them well away from crepe paper, leaves, and other flammable objects. Extinguish all candles when leaving the room.

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