Friday, October 21, 2005

Trick-or-treating tips

Halloween is a cherished tradition for many families. To keep your children safe, consider these safety tips for the big night.

Choose costumes wisely. Make sure your children can walk and move comfortably in their costumes without tripping or becoming tangled. If you purchase costumes, make sure they're labeled "flame-retardant." To avoid covering children's eyes, use face makeup rather than masks. Also avoid floppy hats, wigs and eye patches that may obscure vision. Of course, it's important to dress appropriately for the weather as well.

Limit accessories. Pointed props such as wands, swords and knives may pose safety hazards for young children.

Think supervision. Always accompany children younger than age 10. Encourage older kids to trick-or-treat with a group of friends, parents or older siblings. Provide adult supervision as needed. If your children will be trick-or-treating without you, make sure you know where they're heading. You may want to give them a cell phone for the evening should they need to contact you.

The brighter the better. If your children will be trick-or-treating outdoors at night, dress them in light-colored costumes. Use reflective tape on both costumes and candy bags for maximum visibility. Make sure someone in the group carries a flashlight with fresh batteries as well.

Talk about traffic. Make sure your kids walk on lighted sidewalks -- not on streets. Remind them to look both ways before crossing, and to cross from street corners. Advise your kids not to hide or cross the street between parked cars. Also, kids shouldn't ride bicycles, skateboards or scooters while trick-or-treating. Costumes may become tangled in the wheels, and navigating can be more difficult with a candy bag in hand.

Discuss appropriate trick-or-treating behavior. Limit trick-or-treating to the homes of people your family knows. Select houses with the porch or entry clearly lit, remain at the door, and say "thank you" when accepting a treat. Don't allow your children to enter the home unless they know the homeowners or they're accompanied by a trusted adult who knows the homeowners. Remind your kids to be aware of their surroundings and keep an eye out for anything suspicious.

Inspect the treats carefully. This is a job for parents or other adults, but kids can help as well. Toss anything that's not sealed, has torn packaging, or appears to have been tampered with. Keep in mind that small candies might be a choking risk for younger children.

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