Millions of youthful ghosts and goblins will be taking to the streets in the annual Halloween ritual of trick or treat, and that means adults need to take some special care to make it a safe celebration.
For children, Halloween is an occasion for merrymaking, and the fun can result in carelessness on their part. Grownups need to be aware of this and be ready to compensate.Some suggestions:
- Jack-o-lanterns containing candles should be kept away from landings and doorsteps where long, flowing costumes could come in contact with the flames, warns the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Indoors, make sure that these lanterns are away from curtains, decorations and furnishings that could be ignited.
- Homes welcoming the visits of costumed youngsters should display a light, and residents ought to pick up things like garden hoses and lawn ornaments that could trip children.
Parents, the safety commission says, should tell their offspring to go only to homes where a welcoming light is on.
And they should be warned never to enter the home or apartment of a stranger. Setting a specific time for them to be home can be a good idea.
- When shopping for costumes, look for ones labeled flame resistant, the commission says. This doesn't mean the product won't burn, but at least it will resist ignition, and will extinguish easily if a fire starts.
Flimsy skirts and costumes with big, baggy sleeves should be avoided because of the danger of contact with fire.
- Make costumes short enough to avoid tripping, and dress youngsters in shoes that fit - Mom's high heels can be a hazard to youngsters, the National Safety Council warns.
- Make costumes light and bright enough to be easily visible to motorists. Decorating or trimming the costume with reflective tape can be a big help.
These reflective tapes can be seen by drivers even when traveling at high speeds, the American Optometric Association reports.
Bags intended for goodies can also be decorated with reflective tape, and children should also carry flashlights to help them see and be seen.
- The commission urges using natural masks of cosmetics rather than buying the child a plastic or cardboard mask that can obstruct vision and even restrict breathing.
- Swords, knives and similar costume accessories should be soft and flexible.
- Warn children not to eat any of the treats before they get home, and then examine all the items carefully before allowing them to be eaten.
Be especially wary of treats that are not wrapped in original wrappers. In many areas local hospitals offer to X-ray Halloween treats, and some local police departments have programs too.
- Small children should be accompanied by an adult on their rounds, and all youngsters should be warned against running out from between cars or across lawns, where ornaments, furniture or clotheslines may prove dangerous to them.
Adult drivers need to be aware of the large numbers of children who will be out and need to watch for them in the streets or darting out unexpectedly. Be especially wary when pulling into driveways and alleys.
- And, finally, bring in your pets on Halloween night, urges the Humane Society of the United States.
Black cats seem to be particularly subject to cruelty on this evening, and even dogs in their own yards aren't safe from thoughtless or cruel people, the society warns. Keep pets inside or on a secure leash if walking them.
Dogs or cats frightened by the sight of costumed children may also bite or scratch, the society warns, and keeping the pet away from the holiday confusion can prevent these problems.
And remember, pets are like children in one way. Letting them consume candy, gum and cookies can lead to an upset stomach.