Halloween is a fun and exciting time for millions of children across the United States. In fact, about 36 millions kids ages 5 to 13 will be out trick-or-treating as they visit about 112 million housing units, according to the U.S. Census.
For the great majority of children out on Halloween trick-or-treating, it will be an enjoyable and safe event. However, unfortunately, for a few children, Halloween may be a dangerous time when they might be harmed — either intentionally or accidentally.
Here are a few Halloween Safety Tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission that may be able to help protect children who plan to go trick-or-treating:
Treats: Warn children not to eat any treats before an adult has examined them carefully for evidence of tampering.
Flame-resistant costumes: When buying 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: Buy 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 be light colored or decorated with reflective tape, usually available in hardware, bicycle, and sporting goods stores. To see and be seen easily, children should 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 scarves 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 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 only to homes where the residents are known and have outside lights on as a sign of welcome. Children should not enter homes or apartments unless an adult accompanies them. 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 information on these Halloween safety tips, go to www.CPSC.gov or call the CPSC toll-free at (800) 638-2772.
My final thoughts: It is vital for parents to take a proactive role in helping their children have an entertaining, safe, and secure Halloween. Following a few simple safety ideas can enhance the safe Halloween experience for all involved.
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.
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