Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Trick or Treat Safety Tips

By Brandi M. Seals

Halloween is a great time of years. The kids get to dress up and play make believe. They also get to go door to door in search of candy. With so much excitement in the air, it is not surprising that mistakes are often made. The problem is these mistakes could threaten the safety and well-being of your children.

By carefully planning ahead you can prevent a number of potential problems. Talk with children. Let them know what is expected of them. Teach them to be careful around strangers and to always behave when they are near the edge of the road. There are a number of things to be aware of at Halloween time. Both parents and kids need to pay special attention to safety on Halloween. Follow these tips to help keep everyone safe this October.

Drivers
If you will be driving during trick or treating hours, take special care to follow these tips:
-Watch for children running out between cars.
-Watch for children on roadways, medians and curbs.
-Always enter and exit driveways carefully.
-If you are driving children, make them exit on the curb side, away from traffic.
-If you have a costume, do not wear the mask while driving.
-Watch for children in dark clothing.

Preparations for your Home
-Make sure the yard is clear of things that can trip children, such as ladders, hoses and dog leashes.
-Pets often get frightened by all the activity on Halloween. Put them in a separate room to keep them from being hit by a car and prevent them from biting a trick or treater.
-If possible do not use candles in the jack-o-lanterns. Battery powered candles are preferable because they do not catch fire easily.
-If you do use candles, keep the pumpkin away from the areas trick-or-treaters will be walking or standing.
-Make sure paper or cloth yard decorations cannot be blown into the lit candle.

Before the Kids Leave
-Designate an adult to supervise the outing for children under age 12.
-Tell children to only go in familiar areas and along an established route.
-Make sure the kids only stop at well lit houses or apartments.
-Tell the kids to never enter a stranger’s home.
-Make sure every kid has a cell phone or change to call home in case they have a problem.
-Set a time for the kids to return.
-Make sure the kids know not to eat any treat until you have inspected it.
-Plan and discuss the trick-or-treating route.
-Know the names of every child going trick or treating with your kids.
-Make your child eat dinner before setting out.

Costumes
-Only fire-retardant materials should be used for costumes.
-Costumes should be loose but not too loose. Allow for warm clothes to be worn underneath.
-Costumes should not be so long that kids can trip on them.
-Outfits should be made with light-colored materials.
-Strips of reflective tape should be used to make children even more visible, especially on those where dark clothing.
-Shoes should fit; it does not matter if they go with your outfit.
-Carry only flexible props.
-Masks can obstruct a child's vision. Facial make-up is safer and more colorful.
-If masks are worn, they should have nose and mouth openings and large eye holes.
-Avoid wearing masks while walking from house to house.
-Do not allow children to carry sharp objects.
-Bags or sacks being used youngsters should be light-colored or trimmed with retro-reflective tape if trick-or-treaters are allowed out after dark.
-Carrying flashlights will help children see better and be seen more clearly.

While Trick or Treating
Make sure the kids know to:
-Walk from house to house, do not run.
-Avoid crossing yards and lawns where unseen objects or the uneven terrain can cause youngster to trip.
-Walk on sidewalks, not in the street.
-Walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic, if there are no sidewalks.
-Wear a watch you can read in the dark.
-Stay away from and don not pet animals you do not know.

Treats
-Although tampering is rare, tell children to bring the candy home to be inspected before consuming anything.
-Look at the wrapping carefully and toss out anything that looks suspect.

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