COLUMN: Halloween safety tips, part II

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By Allison Lewis

Trick-or-treaters won’t be the only ones in disguises this Halloween.  Potential hazards to children also might appear in disguises, or not be apparent.
Halloween-related injuries result from treats that have been tampered with, or that pose a choking hazard.  Injuries also might involve eye abrasions from sharp accessories or objects attached to masks or costumes, and burns from flammable costumes ignited by open flames from candles and jack-o’-lanterns.  Children also can be injured from running through dimly lit yards or dashing out into streets.
These safety suggestions will help ensure that Halloween ghosts and goblins won’t be haunted by unnecessary injuries.
Warn children not to eat any treats before an adult has carefully examined the items for evidence of tampering.
An adult also should examine any novelty items or toys received by children under three years old.  Discard items that are small enough to present a choking hazard  or those with small parts or components that could separate during use and cause a problem with choking.
Be sure masks have no sharp objects that could injure children.  Swords, knives and similar costume accessories should be made from soft or flexible materials.
Select costumes and accessories (masks, wigs and beards) that are labeled “Flame Resistant.”  Although these could catch fire, this labeling indicates that they will resist burning and should extinguish quickly when removed from the ignition source.
Avoid flimsy costume materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts to reduce the risk of contact with candles or other ignition sources.
To guard against trips and falls, children’s costumes should be short enough not to drag on the ground.  Also, children should wear sturdy, tight-fitting shoes; wearing oversized shoes, especially high heels, isn’t a safe practice.
Be sure children’s masks fit securely, provide adequate ventilation, and have eyeholes large enough to permit full vision.   Also, securely tie hats and scarves to keep them from slipping over children’s eyes and interfering with vision.  
Instead of a mask, consider applying hypoallergenic cosmetics.
Make or buy costumes bright enough to be clearly visible to motorists. For better visibility at dusk or darkness, decorate or trim costumes with reflective tape that will glow in a car’s headlight beam.   Also, choose brightly colored treat bags or sacks, or decorate these containers with reflective tape, which usually is available in hardware, bicycle and sporting goods stores.
Carrying flashlights will help children more easily see and be seen.
An adult or older, responsible child should accompany smaller children. Be sure young children finish trick-or-treating and return home before dark.
Children should only enter homes or apartments when accompanied by an adult or responsible, older child.
Go over pedestrian safety rules before children go out to trick-or-treat. Encourage children to walk on the sidewalk rather than in the street.  Also, remind them to walk, not run, from house to house and not to dash into the street from between parked cars.
To protect trick-or-treaters coming to your home, do not put candlelit jack-o’-lanterns near landings and doorsteps where costumes could brush against the flame.  Keep indoor jack-o’-lanterns, candles and other ignition sources away from curtains, decorations and other furnishings that could be ignited.
Whether for indoor or outdoor usage, only use lights tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory.  Check each set of lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, and loose connections. Discard damaged sets of lights.
Don’t overload extension cords.
For more information, contact Spencer Cooperative Extension Service.
Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.