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Halloween Safety

Ghosts and goblins aren’t always the scariest part of the Halloween holiday. Parents and homeowners often have to worry about the safety of their homes and families.

WVU Extension Service offers up tips and tricks to make Halloween a treat for everyone involved.

Candy Alternatives

It’s important to consider your child’s health when it comes to all the candy they will collect on Halloween. Not only do you need to inspect it for any tampering, but you need to consider what you will do with all of it. Experts suggest a good meal before trick-or-treating. Afterward, let your child pick a few favorite pieces, but then put away the rest. Allowing candy to sit out where children see it is often too tempting to pass up.

Treat kids to candy alternatives, such as popcorn, trail mix, or pretzels, this Halloween. Explore healthier options that might trick picky eaters into enjoying a better snack.

While a small amount of Halloween candy can be a fun treat, excess added sugars have been linked to several health issues. The consumption of corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup rose by 277 percent in the three decades between the 1970s and 2000. During the same time period, obesity rates have increased sharply, too. Even if packaging is small, calories, fat, and sugar can really add up.

To help promote healthier habits and combat childhood obesity, many parents choose to provide alternatives to the traditional Halloween candy. Here are a few examples:

children dressed up for trick or treat sitting on steps
  • Air popped popcorn
  • Dried fruit
  • Trail Mix
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Animal crackers
  • Pretzels
  • Sugar-free chewing gum
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Pencils
  • Erasers
  • Yo-yos
  • Spider rings
  • Age-appropriate activity books: word-search, cross words, coloring books, etc.
  • Crayons
  • Mini books
  • Bouncy balls
  • Bubbles
  • Kazoos

Light the Night

Drivers may not easily see trick-or-treaters. For improved visibility, children should carry a flashlight, glow stick, or wear reflective tape on their costumes. In addition, trick-or-treaters should stay on sidewalks and cross streets only at crosswalks. Finally, children should be supervised by an adult and walk in large groups, which are easier to see than individual pedestrians.

Stranger Danger

Halloween is a fun night to gather with neighbors, but be sure to remind children of “stranger danger.” Remind children that they should never enter a house or a car of someone they do not know. Children should stay in well-lit, populated areas and stick to a pre-planned route.

Fire Safety

jack-o-lanterns on display

According to West Virginia University Safety and Health Extension experts, costumes aren’t always the scariest part of Halloween.

“Being fire-safe doesn’t mean you can’t have a fun holiday,” John Hyman, WVU Extension assistant professor, said.

Follow these tips from the National Fire Protection Association to keep your trick-or-treaters safe.

  • Purchase only costumes, wigs and props labeled flame-resistant or flame-retardant. When creating a costume, choose material that won’t easily ignite if it comes in contact with heat or flame. Avoid billowing or long trailing features.
  • Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations well away from all open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs, heaters, etc.
  • Use flashlights or battery-operated candles when illuminating Jack-o-lanterns. Use extreme caution when decorating with candle lit Jack-O-Lanterns, and supervise children at all times when candles are lit. When lighting candles inside Jack-O-Lanterns, use long, fireplace-style matches and be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn including doorsteps, walkways and yards.
  • Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, ensuring nothing blocks escape routes.
  • Instruct children to stay away from open flames or other heat sources. Be sure children know how to stop, drop and roll in the event their clothing catches fire. (Stop immediately, drop to the ground, covering your face with your hands, and roll over and over to extinguish flames.) Cool the burn.
  • Use flashlights as alternatives to candles or torch lights when decorating walkways and yards. They are much safer for trick-or-treaters, whose costumes may brush against the lighting.
  • Make sure fuel-burning equipment is vented to the outside, that the venting is kept clear and unobstructed, and that the exit point is properly sealed around the vent, all of which is to make sure deadly carbon monoxide does not build up in the home.
  • Instruct children who are attending parties at others’ homes to locate the exits and plan how they would get out in an emergency.

Costume Safety

  • If your child wears a mask, make sure the viewing area is big enough so that your child can easily see where he or she is going.
  • Be careful of tripping hazards. To lessen the possibility of a fall, wear shoes with a low heel and be sure that the costume does not drag on the ground.
  • Props should be made of plastics or foam material to reduce the risk of an injury of a child falls.
  • Reflector strips help drivers see trick-or-treaters.

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