By Diann Douglas
Halloween is almost here. Children dress up in costumes and ask their neighbors for candy, while parents take pictures and prepare to greet neighborhood trick-or-treaters. Extension Specialists in Home Environment want consumers to keep festive holiday safe and fun, so consider these Halloween safety tips.
First, think about costumes; since fabric can easily catch fire if you brush too closely to a candle-lit jack-o-lantern or luminary, make sure costumes are flame-resistant. The Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests you look at the label in costumes, masks, beards, and wigs to be sure it is flame resistant. These labels don’t mean these items won’t burn, it indicates the item will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.
Costumes should be short enough to prevent children from tripping or falling. If the costume requires a mask or face covering, you should be able to see clearly and breathe easily at all times. For best visibility and safety, consider using face paint or makeup instead of a mask. Be extra careful when applying makeup near eyes.
Accessories such as swords or knives should be soft and flexible. Make sure that scarves, sashes and hats are worn securely and do not block your vision. Shoes should be well fitting; high heels are not a good choice for walking. It is also a good idea to use reflective tape on costumes or the treat bag.
Once the costumes are on, venturing out alone is not a safe idea nor is it fun. If children are old enough to go with a group of friends, give them instructions as to the area they can go and a time to return home. It is always best to have a trusted adult accompany a group of children. Plan a route ahead of time and bring a cell phone or a set of walkie-talkies for communication in case you get separated from the group.
Carry a flashlight so you can see where you’re walking and so others can see you. Walk on the sidewalk wherever possible. If there is not a sidewalk, keep away from the edge of the road and walk facing the traffic. Caution children to walk from house to house; running increases the chances of falling and causing injury. Riding bikes to do trick-or-treating is strongly discouraged, costumes can get caught in the wheels, gears or pedals.Children should not sample candy until they have returned home. Parents need to inspect candy for torn wrappers or other signs of tampering such as discoloration, pinholes and small tears. Any opened packages and homemade food or candy should be thrown away.
In our rural area, many families opt for fall festivals – neighbors, schools or local churches sometimes sponsor the events. This gives families a safe alternative to enjoy games, activities and food and eliminates wandering through neighborhoods in the dark.
Regardless of your choice, safety should be your first consideration before venturing out to festive activities. For more information on home environment and safety, contact the Madison County Extension Service.
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