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How to make Halloween a fun – and safe – night.

Make sure kids understand these important safety rules

October 2013

Halloween presents wonderful opportunities for parents and children to have fun together, but it also requires extra attention to safety concerns.

It starts with pumpkin carving: younger children can participate by drawing the face, but the actual carving should be left to adults. The safest candle for your family's jack-o-lantern is a votive; an even safer option is using a glow stick or battery-powered light.

Children love to choose their own Halloween costumes, but parents should pay close attention to the selection process. Consider visibility and ease of movement for each costume. Costumes that are bright or reflective help keep kids safer in fading light.

If your child is going to be out after dark, it's worth the extra effort to add reflective tape to trick-or-treat bags or costumes. This helps ensure motorists will see your children as they cross roadways or driveways. Glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets are also great options to help visibility, and kids love to wear them.

According to Dr. Jason Little of Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St.Vincent, falls are the biggest cause of ER visits on Halloween night. Therefore, be sure hats and shoes fit properly to minimize the risk of tripping or obscured vision. Makeup approved for use on faces can be a good alternative to masks that limit trick-or-treaters' ability to see.

Naturally, young children should always be accompanied by an adult while trick-or-treating. Parents should establish a safe trick-or-treating route and time to return home with older children – who should go out in a group. "In addition to traveling in groups, kids should avoid dark houses," Little said.

Dr. Little also recommends that parents sit down and review safety rules with their children prior to trick-or-treating. "It's important to remind kids that if they are approached by a stranger, they should run away and be loud, and not to take any rides from anyone."

After trick-or-treating, be sure to check the candy for anything suspicious such as pinholes or half-open wrappers. And don't let your kids eat any prepared treats like cookies from unknown neighbors. For children four and under, be sure to watch for choking hazards.

Here are some other safety guidelines for children before they head out on Halloween night:
  • Always walk on sidewalks or at the edge of roadways facing traffic.
  • Never enter a home for a treat.

  • Avoid cutting across lawns or alleys and stick to sidewalks and designated places to cross the street.
  • Wait until returning home before examining and eating candy.
Finally, parents who plan to hand out candy should prepare yards and front porches by removing garden hoses, lawn ornaments and tools children might trip over in the dark. All outdoor lights should have working bulbs, and sidewalks should be swept of wet leaves or other slipping hazards. This way, no one gets hurt and everybody has fun!

Trick-or-Treat for Kids off Their Feet

You can also teach your child an important lesson about helping others this Halloween by participating in the annual Trick-or-Treat for Kids off Their Feet — a community service event that collects items for patients at Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St.Vincent who are unable to trick-or-treat on Halloween night. For more information, visit peytonmanning.stvincent.org and click on "Ways To Give."

Tags: Health, In This Issue, Local

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