For millions are children across the United States, Halloween is a fun and exciting time. In fact, there will be about 36 million kids, from 5 to 13 years old, out trick-or-treating as they visit about 112 million occupied housing units, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
For the great majority of children, it will be an enjoyable and safe event. However, unfortunately, for a few children, Halloween may be a dangerous time when they might be either intentionally or accidentally harmed.
Here are some Halloween safety tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that may help to protect children who plan on going trick-or-treating.
Treats: Warn children not to eat any treats before an adult has carefully examined them for evidence of tampering.
Flame Resistant Costumes: When purchasing a costume, masks, beards, and wigs, look for the label "Flame Resistant." Although this label does not mean these items won't catch fire, it does indicate the items will resist burning and should extinguish quickly once removed from the ignition source.
To minimize the risk of contact with candles or other sources of ignition, avoid costumes made with flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts.
Costume Designs: Purchase or make costumes that are light and bright enough to be clearly visible to motorists.
• For greater visibility during dusk and darkness, decorate or trim costumes with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car's headlights. Bags or sacks should also be light colored or decorated with reflective tape. Reflective tape is usually available in hardware, bicycle, and sporting goods stores.
• To easily see and be seen, children should also carry flashlights.
• Costumes should be short enough to prevent children from tripping and falling.
• Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes. Mother’s high heels are not a good idea for safe walking.
• Hats and scarfs should be tied securely to prevent them from slipping over children's eyes.
• Apply a natural mask of cosmetics rather than have a child wear a loose-fitting mask that might restrict breathing or obscure vision. If a mask is used, however, make sure it fits securely and has eyeholes large enough to allow full vision.
• Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be of soft and flexible material.
Pedestrian Safety: Young children should always be accompanied by an adult or an older, responsible child. All children should walk, not run from house to house and use the sidewalk if available, rather than walk in the street.
Children should be cautioned against running out from between parked cars, or across lawns and yards where ornaments, furniture, or clotheslines present dangers.
Choosing Safe Houses: Children should go to homes only where the residents are known and have outside lights on as a sign of welcome.
• Children should not enter homes or apartments unless they are accompanied by an adult.
• People expecting trick-or-treaters should remove anything that could be an obstacle from lawns, steps, and porches. Candlelit jack-o'-lanterns should be kept away from landings and doorsteps where costumes could brush against the flame. Indoor jack-o'-lanterns should be kept away from curtains, decorations, and other furnishings that could be ignited.
For more information on these Halloween safety tips, go to www.CPSC.gov or call the CPSC toll-free at (800) 638-2772.
Also be sure to contact your local law enforcement agency for more Halloween safety ideas.
My Final Thoughts: It is vital for parents to take a proactive role in helping their children have an entertaining, safe, and secure Halloween. By following a few simple and easy safety ideas as suggested by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, you can hopefully enhance the safe Halloween experience for all those involved.
Copyright 2010 by Bruce Mandelblit
Bruce Mandelblit (www.CrimeZilla.com) is a nationally known security and safety journalist, as well as a recently retired, highly decorated reserve law enforcement officer. His e-mail address is CrimePrevention123@yahoo.com.
This column is provided for general information purposes only. Please check with your local law enforcement agency and legal professional for information specific to you and your jurisdiction.
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