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Safety Tips for a Ghoulishly-Great Halloween

10-17-2017

Candy, costumes, and cheer—Halloween is always a fun time for children. But, for parents, it can become a real nightmare if your child gets hurt or sick on the trick-or-treating trail. Whether you’re trick-or-treating with your child or staying home to hand out sweets, consider these tips from Frederick Regional Health System to keep your family and others safe this Halloween.

Out and About

According to the National Safety Council, nearly 73% of kids go trick-or-treating door-to-door each year. As ghouls and goblins roam the streets, filling their bags with candy galore, it’s important to take extra precaution to protect these costumed kids on the move. For a safe and festive holiday, observe these safety recommendations while you’re out and about in the neighborhood on Halloween—and encourage your young ones to do the same.

  • Always walk on sidewalks or paths—if there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
  • Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
  • Children under the age of 12 should not be alone at night without adult supervision. A parent/guardian or responsible adult should always accompany young children when strolling the neighborhoods.
  • Consider a curfew—if your child is trick-or-treating without you (with friends or a large group, for example), agree on a time when they should return home.
  • Don’t let your child cut through back alleys or fields. Instruct them to stay in well-lit, populated areas with lots of people around.
  • If your child is trick-or-treating without you, plan and review an approved route with them and their friends before they leave.
  • Instruct your child to travel only in neighborhoods they’re familiar with—young children should never explore or take unknown routes without parent or adult supervision.
  • Only approach homes with a porch light on—and stress to children that they should never enter a stranger’s home or car for treats.
  • Remind children of police and fire safety. Encourage them to carry a cell phone and call 911 immediately if they see or experience anything alarming.
  • Stay alert and pay attention to your surroundings at all times.
  • There’s safety in numbers. Encourage children to travel in a group of three or more and to make sure the group stays together (and everyone accounted for) at all times.
  • When crossing the street…
    • Cross the street at corners and crosswalks, and follow all traffic signals.
    • Look left, then right, then left again before crossing the street.
    • Put the electronic devices down, keep your head up, and walk (don’t run) from house to house. Practice extra precaution with passing cars. Pedestrian injuries are more common to children on Halloween.
    • Teach children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.

Tricks or Treats?

As tempting as it may be for children and adults alike to dig into their loot while trick-or-treating, wait until all treats have been properly checked before indulging. Tampering is rare, but it can happen.

For a healthy Halloween…

  • Check all candy wrappers. Tears, extra-loose wrappers, or holes can indicate possible tampering. Throw those away immediately.
  • Consider your child’s food allergies, if any, and check the label to make sure the allergen is not present before consuming.
  • Don’t let your child eat anything that isn’t sealed. Be weary of homemade or fresh-food items, unless you know and trust the source.
  • Instruct your child not to eat any treats until they return home and they’ve been inspected thoroughly by an adult.
  • Make a filling meal for your kids before trick-or-treating. This will not only give them energy during the night, but they won’t be hungry and tempted to snack on candy before bringing it home for inspection.
  • Regulate your child’s candy intake. Consider allowing only one or two treats per day for the days and weeks following Halloween.
  • Remove all choking hazards for young children. This includes small toys, peanuts, gum, hard candies, etc.
  • Set a deadline for when leftover Halloween candy needs to be thrown away.

Costume Dos and Don’ts

According to the National Safety Council, lack of visibility because of low lighting or dark clothing accounts for about 15% of pedestrian deaths each year. While every Halloween costume should be as fun or as scary as you like, you should never sacrifice safety. Whether homemade or store bought, your child’s Halloween costume should meet these few simple guidelines.

Do...

  • Consider a unique costume, especially if your child is trick-or-treating with a group. It’s easier to spot them in a crowd.
  • Make sure Halloween makeup is nontoxic—do a patch test before Halloween to make sure your child is not allergic to it.
  • Make your child easily visible to motorists; consider applying reflective tape to their costumes and/or bags, wearing glow bracelets for better visibility, or carrying flashlights in the dark.
  • Purchase accessories, costumes, and wigs that are fire-resistant.
  • Remove Halloween makeup before putting the kids to bed to prevent eye and skin irritations.

Don’t…

  • Assume your child’s facemask is safe—if it doesn’t fit properly, it can interfere with your child’s vision or breathing.
  • Buy accessories, including fake knives and swords, that are not soft or flexible—they should be made of cardboard and other smooth, flexible materials.
  • Mistake flame-resistant for fire-resistant—flame-resistant clothing burns less easily and can be extinguished quickly, but it can still cause injuries.
  • Purchase costumes, including shoes, that are too big or baggy or too tight, as they can contribute to trips, falls, and blisters.
  • Wear decorative contact lenses unless approved by an eye care professional. Many colored contact lenses on the market are not approved by the FDA.

Not Trick-or-Treating? Safety Still Matters

According to the National Safety Council, in the U.S., October ranks No. 2 in motor vehicle deaths by month. NSC research also reveals that darting or running into the road accounted for about 15% of deaths in kids ages 5 to 9 and 7% for those ages 10 to 15. Just as trick-or-treaters should use caution near roadways on Halloween, so should drivers.

If you’re a motorist on Halloween, when driving…

  • At night and early evening, watch for children, especially those in dark clothing, walking on roadways, sidewalks, medians, and curbs.
  • Do not pass vehicles stopped on the roadway—they could be dropping off or picking up kids for trick-or-treating.
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys very carefully.
  • If you’re dropping your kids off or picking them up, pull off the road into a safe spot and turn your hazard lights on to alert other drivers.
  • Refrain from using your cell phone and other electronic devices. Pay extra attention to the road, and remove any distractions.
  • Slow down and stay alert, especially in residential neighborhoods and during popular trick-or-treating hours (5:30-9:30 p.m.)

Staying in this year? To prepare for trick-or-treaters at your home…

  • Consider an alternative to candy—non-food treats like coloring books or crayons are just as fun for kids.
  • Decorate with lanterns instead of open candles. Battery-powered light sources are just as decorative and don’t pose a fire hazard.
  • Love Halloween decorations? Give visitors warning if there are scary scenes ahead—or consider a lighter version for young ghouls and gals.
  • Make sure you have homeowners insurance. Nothing can ruin Halloween more than a lawsuit because someone tripped on your property, or decided to take the “tricks” a little too far with vandalism.
  • Remove tripping hazards from your porch, walkway, and driveway—this includes bicycles, wet leaves, branches, and wires.
  • Turn on the porch lights and replace outdoor lights, as needed.

Make it a Fright-Free Night for Pets, Too

Kids aren’t the only ones filled with excitement on Halloween. It’s important to have a plan of action for your pets, too. Between the doorbell ringing continuously and strangers approaching your door throughout the night, your dog, cat, and other pets can become frightened.

To keep your pets happy and safe this Halloween…

  • Be careful when opening and closing the door to trick-or-treaters—an adventurous dog or cat could dart out through the open door as you hand out candy.
  • Don’t leave any lighted candles or Jack-o-lanterns on side tables or in hallways where they could be knocked off by a wagging tail or curious cat.
  • Dressing your pets up this year? Try your pets’ costumes on in advance to see how they react. If they don’t like it, don’t force them to wear it.
  • If possible, keep your pets inside. Between the noise, strangers, and general excitement, Halloween can be quite the stressful for animals.
  • In case your pet escapes or gets lost, make sure they’re wearing appropriate, up-to-date ID tags.
  • Keep candy and wrappers far from your pets. Chocolate is especially dangerous to animals, and they can choke on hard candies and wrappers.
  • Keep Halloween plants like pumpkins and corn out of reach. They’re nontoxic, but they can wreak havoc on your pets’ digestive system if consumed.
  • Keep your outdoor cats inside for several days before and after Halloween. Black cats are especially at risk to cruel pranks and violence this time of year.

We’re Always Here to Help.

If you or your little one is in need of medical attention this Halloween, remember that we have Immediate Care locations in Frederick and Urbana that will be open until 8 p.m. on Halloween.

Click here to learn more about medical conditions that can be treated at Immediate Care, and when it’s best to visit the Emergency Department.

Have a Spooktacular Halloween!

From the Frederick Regional Health System family to yours, we hope these simple tips can help you have a safe and healthy Halloween!



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