Practicing smart Halloween safety

At this time of year, some of the scariest questions I get are about Halloween safety. So I thought Id once again unmask a few safety tips so that Halloween will not be so frightening from a safety standpoint. Prior to going out, plan the route together as a family and set a time limit for your children to trick-or-treat. Never let a child go alone. Younger children should go with a parent and older children should be with at least two other friends. Kids should accept treats in the doorway not inside a home or apartment. See and be seen make sure costumes allow movement and do not impair vision. They should be made from fire-resistant fabrics such as nylon or polyester. Bright colors are best for visibility. Use reflective tape on the costume and use hypoallergenic face makeup rather than masks. Make sure your child carries a flashlight and wears a watch if going without you. Emphasize the importance of walking only on the sidewalks and crossing at street corners not between cars. Make sure your child doesnt eat treats until they have been inspected. Foods that are unwrapped or wrappers that are punctured or torn should be thrown out. Give your child a few snacks for the road and feed them a good dinner before they go out. Discard any homemade or unwrapped treats when in doubt, throw it out! Smaller trick or treat bags will limit the distance traveled. And as for the pumpkin-carving activities, let your child draw the face on the outside while you do the carving. Never put pumpkins with candles near curtains, flammable objects or where trick-or-treaters costumes can catch on fire. Finally, if you have health concerns about letting your child eat all that candy tell him or her that they can sell it back to you in exchange for a special outing or activity, or perhaps extra spending money. Hopefully, holiday tricks like this will be a treat when it comes to ensuring a safe and fun Halloween. Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Childrens Hospital at Fletcher Allen and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. You can also catch First with Kids weekly on WOKO 98.9 FM and WCAX-TV Channel 3. Visit the First with Kids archives at www.vermontchildrens.org.

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