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Safety Tips for a Happy Halloween

Whether you're trick-or-treating or marching in the ghost and goblin parade, keep Halloween scares to a minimum.

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Let adults do the pumpkin-carving to keep little fingers safe.
Let adults do the pumpkin-carving to keep little fingers safe.

For a tear-free celebration, observe these safety recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Los Angeles Fire Department, and the National Safety Council.

Dress-Up Smarts
Stay Safe on the Trick-or-Treat Beat
Prepare for Treat-Seekers
Sift Through the Loot

Dress-Up Smarts

  • Choose fire-retardant costumes. Look for a label that indicates flame-resistance on any costumes, wigs, and headpieces you purchase. If you're making the costume yourself, examine the fabric content and talk the salesperson to help you choose the least flammable material.

  • Use make-up instead of masks. Hypoallergenic, non-toxic face paint is a better choice than a mask, which may obscure your child's vision and hinder his breathing. If you do opt for a mask, cut oversized holes for his eyes and mouth, and encourage him to take the mask off each time he crosses the street.

  • Avoid oversized costumes and shoes that can trip her up. Choose comfortable shoes and make sure clothes don't drag on the ground.

  • Select light-colored costumes when possible. This makes it easier for drivers to spot trick-or-treaters. For costumes that have to be dark, accessorize with a white pillowcase your child can use to stash his loot and help him stand out in the dark.

  • Attach reflective tape to her costume to make her easier to spot. A few strips on her back, front, and goodie bag should do the trick. If she's planning on biking or skateboarding, stick some tape on that as well.

  • Ensure his emergency information (name, number, and address) are somewhere on his clothes or on a bracelet if you're not going to be with him.

  • Choose accessories that are smooth and flexible. Look for swords, knives, and other accessories that don't look too realistic or have sharp ends or points.

  • Give her a flashlight, watch, and cell phone or coins to help her see where she's going, know when to head home, or make a call if she's in trouble. Make sure she knows her curfew and how to contact you.

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Stay Safe on the Trick-or-Treat Beat

  • Make sure children under 12 are supervised by an adult or teen chaperone if you can't take her around yourself. Teens should have a curfew.

  • Round up a group. It's best for kids of any age to travel in groups of three or more—there is safety in numbers., Plan a route with your child, making sure he knows to call you if she deviates from the plan. Keep his route to familiar streets and houses, working up the street then back down without criss-crossing. Set a time limit when he should come home or call you.

  • Tell her to visit well-lit, familiar houses. Make her promise to stick to the stoop — and never go inside unless she knows the grown-ups very well. Remind her to say "thank you" for her treats.

  • Remind him of police and fire safety. Practice the principle of "Stop-Drop-Roll," just in case his clothes catch on fire. Encourage him to talk to a policeman or call you if anything makes her uncomfortable or upset.

  • Review pedestrian rules. It's easy to overestimate your child's ability to remember to cross at corners, wait for walk signals, and stay on the sidewalks. Between the evening's excitement and the novelty of being out at night, reviewing traffic-safety is a good idea. Remind her to walk — not run — between houses.

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Prepare for Treat-Seekers

  • Turn on the porch lights and replace burnt out bulbs.

  • Decorate the walkway or steps with lanterns instead of candles. Battery-powered light sources such as light sticks are just as decorative and not as dangerous.

  • Let adults do the carving. Give your child a marker to draw the pumpkin pattern, but keep knives in the your own hands. If you plan to use a candle in the pumpkin, small votives are the safest bet. Stash the lit pumpkin on a sturdy surface away from anything flammable and don't leave it unattended.

  • Remove tripping hazards on your porch, walkway, and driveway. Clear your lawn of hoses, branches, bikes, wet leaves, or wires that could trip trick-or-treaters.

  • Keep pets inside. Between the noise, visitors, and pranksters, Halloween is not very pet-friendly. Keep dogs and cats in a closed, quiet room if possible.

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Sift Through the Loot

  • Check candy wrappers. Pinholes, tears, or unusually loose packages can indicate possible tampering.

  • Remove choking hazards for young children, including hard candies, small toys, peanuts, or gum.

  • Don't let your child eat anything that isn't sealed. Unless you know the source, throw away homemade or fresh food items.

  • Keep candy and wrappers away from your pets. Chocolate can be deadly to animals, and they can choke on hard candies and wrappers. Store candy well out of your pet's reach.

  • Regulate candy intake. Set a daily quota on your child's consumption and set a deadline for when leftover Halloween candy gets thrown out.

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