Oct 30, 2013 - By Steven R. PeckIf can be safe and fun at the same time
Halloween probably is a safer event than it used to be, thanks to public education, product improvements, and a gradual transformation of the holiday from a mischief-making, even trouble-making, occasion to an orderly one.
Still, there are very real concerns in both the public sphere and the private home that crop up on or about Oct. 31.
If you are a young family heading out for trick-or-treating for the first time, there might be things you took for granted when someone was looking out for you that now are your responsibility. If you are grandparent in charge of grandchildren for the night, it might have been awhile since you trick-or-treated with kids. Or, if an older sibling is taking younger brothers and sisters door to door, then a bit of reflection on the responsibilities of the day is in order.
There are many do-and-don't lists available for Halloween. The following is condensed from the Consumer Product Safety Commission:
- When purchasing costumes, masks, beards and wigs, look for flame-resistant fabrics such as nylon or polyester. Look for the words "Flame Resistant" on the label.
- To minimize the risk of contact with candles and other fire sources, avoid costumes made with flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts.
- Purchase or make costumes that are light in color, bright and 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 (many ready-made costumes already have reflective material).
- Bags or sacks also should be light colored or decorated with reflective tape. Reflective tape is usually available in hardware, bicycle and sporting goods stores.
- Children should carry flashlights to see and be seen.
- Costumes should be well-fitted and not drag on the ground to guard against trips and falls.
- Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes. Oversized shoes and high heels are not a good idea.
- Tie hats and scarves securely to prevent them from slipping over children's eyes and obstructing vision.
- If your child wears a mask, make sure it fits securely, provides adequate ventilation, and has eye holes large enough to allow full vision.
- Swords, knives and similar costume accessories should be made of soft, flexible material.
- Warn children not to eat any treats before an adult has examined them carefully for evidence of tampering. This doesn't happen often, but every year there are reports of "booby-trapped" treats.
- Carefully examine any toy or novelty items received by trick-or-treaters, especially ages 3 and younger. Do not allow young children to have any items that are small enough to present a choking hazard or that have small parts or components that could separate during use and present a choking hazard.
- Individually wrapped candy is the best bet. Some hosts still like to hand out homemade treats such as popcorn balls, cookies or candied apples. Parents, look them over before giving the OK.
- Keep candles and jack-o'-lanterns away from landings and doorsteps where costumes could brush against the flame.
- Remove obstacles from lawns, steps and porches when expecting trick-or-treaters.
- Indoors, keep candles and jack-o'-lanterns away from curtains, decorations and other combustibles that could be ignited. Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory. Look for the UL approval label on the cord. Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard damaged sets.
- Don't overload extension cords.
All of these safeguards can sound like a hassle to deal with, but most are simply common sense and easy to do. And they are preferable to an accident or injury that would ruin the day or night.
Have a safe and happy Halloween.
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