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Keep your trick-or-treaters safe on Halloween

October 31, 2013

Halloween is just around the corner. The most important part of Halloween is keeping it safe for our children. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers the following tips to ensure that you and your children have a safe and fun Halloween night.


Candy Safety:


Eating sweet treats is a big part of the fun on Halloween. If you’re trick-or-treating, health and safety experts say you should remember these tips:


• Don’t eat candy until it has been inspected at home.


• Trick-or-treaters should eat a snack before heading out, so they won’t be tempted to nibble on treats that haven’t been inspected.


• Tell children not to accept—or eat—anything that isn’t commercially wrapped.


• Parents of very young children should remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, or small toys.


• Inspect commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.


Lawn Safety:


• If the tag says “Indoor Use Only,” keep it inside. Maybe more than any other holiday, Halloween lends itself to electronic products that leap into action when someone crosses a motion detector’s beam. Many of these more modern “scare in a box” items suck up a healthy dose of electricity, are controlled by fairly delicate electronics, and aren’t cheap. It hardly makes sense to expose your couple hundred dollars’ worth of hardware to the elements, much less run the risk of shocking a curious eight-year-old who happens to poke or prod the boogeyman on your wet porch. Even if you make every effort to duct tape the connections and ground the plugs, your liability is huge if you ignore such a simple direction. (The same goes for lighting kits and other electrical decorations.)


• Make your yard a No Tripping Zone. Kids lugging around buckets of candy in ill-fitting costumes, often peeking through eyeholes in masks that give them the focal powers of a bleary groundhog, are notoriously clumsy. Even if you have a major lawn display this Halloween, you should have a clear path in and out of the candy distribution area. No power cords. No tie-lines for inflatable props. Keep the path clear.


• Keep the good stuff out of reach. Besides being notoriously clumsy, kids are also insatiably curious. They’re going to wonder if that $500 fog-spewing, bigger-than-life, fully-lit, dancing Grim Reaper is a robot or just you in a suit, and there’s nothing that spoils a circuit board faster than a steep fall off a couple of hay bales onto your neighbor’s driveway or the front stoop of your house. Much the same can be said of party-goers who have sampled your witches’ brew punch a time or two. Rule of Thumb: The more expensive and/or delicate the item, the farther it should be out of reach and the more protected it should be. You can display your best Halloween toys and still protect them. A hacked-together cemetery fence will cost you no more than some screws and PVC pipe, can add to the general spookiness, and can help keep your precious ghouls out of the reach of guests most prone to fumbling.


Costume Safety:


• Make sure it fits. Do a Halloween Runway Show with your kids - or even yourself - to make sure the costume offers full mobility and trim as needed. Also, make sure junior isn’t overloaded. Part and parcel of some characters may be the wand, light saber, batarangs or baseball bat he or she carries, but add in a candy carrying receptacle and see how well your kid maneuvers around the living room. If they can circumnavigate the house without bowling over a lamp or smashing the big screen, they can probably make it along the sidewalk in safety.


• “Seeing” works both ways. While we’re on the subject of fitting the costume, consider how well the child can see inside the mask. Sometimes, a couple snips can clear out a big range of vision. Likewise, consider how well your child can be seen at night in their costume. Make sure your child can be seen by motorists, haunted house owners, and other Trick-or-Treaters after dark.


• Consider the footwear. Many kids have been forced to turn back for home with far less than the annual candy quota because of pain, or because they have tripped or fallen in their Halloween costume shoes. Practicality counts more than having the perfect costume footwear. Selecting the proper footwear can avoid a Halloween mis-step.


Final Thoughts:


• Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.


• Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you.


• Look both ways before crossing the street. Use established crosswalks wherever possible.


• Only walk on sidewalks or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.


• Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats unless you know the cook well.


• Enter homes only if you’re with a trusted adult. Otherwise, stay outside.