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Make sure your kids stay safe on Halloween

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
October 22, 2007

Here’s what we do: We dress our children in clothing they’ve never worn. We put things on their faces to obstruct their vision. Then we send them out into the night to knock on the doors of people we don’t know.


Yup, it’s Halloween.


The chance that anything will go wrong might be one in a million.


“But you don’t want to be the parent of a child who has a problem,” said Dr. Christopher Harkin of the Mercy Evansville Clinic.


Following are Harkin’s thoughts on how to keep the holiday safe, along with a few other ideas from other sources:


Before Halloween

-- Buy only the costumes and accessories that have labels indicating they are flame resistant. Review with your child how to stop, drop and roll.


-- Wear costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure shoes fit and costumes are short enough to prevent tripping. Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes or bags.


-- Secure emergency identification discreetly within the costume or on a bracelet.


-- Avoid masks. Non-toxic makeup and decorative hats are safer.


-- Think twice before using simulated knives, guns or swords. If you must, make certain they do not appear authentic and are soft and flexible.


-- Get a flashlight with fresh batteries for each child. “This is probably the most important thing that I can recommend,” Harkin said.


-- Eliminate tripping hazards on your porch and walkway. Check your property for hazards.


While trick or treating


-- A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children.


-- For kids without parents, stay in a group and discuss where they will be going. Allstate Insurance also recommends that parents set a return time. Kids might want to carry a watch—or better, a cell phone, if available.


-- Remain on well-lighted streets and always use the sidewalk. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the farthest edge of the roadway facing traffic.


-- Never run across a street.


-- Remove any mask or other item that will limit vision before crossing a street, driveway or alley.


-- Never cut across yards or use alleys.


-- Visit only homes with porch lights on.


-- No eating until treats are thoroughly checked at home. Allstate recommends a meal beforehand to stave off the urge.


After trick or treating

-- Sort and check treats. Throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items. Eat only items in their original packaging.


-- If an item feels or looks suspicious, wash your hands with soap and warm water for one minute. Harkin said fruits should be washed in any event, if only to prevent the spread of germs.


-- Kids don’t need to gorge on candy. Ration treats for the days following Halloween. Split up the treats into small portions, one for each day. Think obesity and how the experience can teach kids good food habits.


-- The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, www.foodallergy.org, notes that kids and parents with allergies need to be particular about candy. Candy is likely to contain some of the top food allergens: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy.


For motorists

The Rock County Sheriff’s Department sent out a list recommending the following:


-- Watch for children darting out from between parked cars.


-- Watch for children walking on roadways, medians and curbs.


-- Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.


-- Watch for children wearing dark clothing.



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