Trick-or-treating safety, preparedness tips for a happy Halloween

By Explorer Post 1832 of the Southport Police Department

For October the Southport Explorer Post 1832 would like to remind our community about Halloween safety for our young citizens. The following information is a composite put together from safety programs of the National Safety Council and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Follow these tips and have a very happy and treat filled Halloween.

The costume:

Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.

Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.

Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly so they don’t slide over eyes. Makeup should be tested ahead of time on a small patch of skin to make sure there are no unpleasant surprises on the big day.

When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories, look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.

If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.

Do not use decorative contact lenses. While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as “one size fits all”, or “no need to see an eye specialist”, using decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. This can cause pain, inflammation and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.

Review with children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they ever have an emergency or become lost.

When buying Halloween makeup, make sure it is nontoxic and always test it in a small area first.

Remove all makeup before children go to bed to prevent skin and eye irritation.

Carving a pumpkin:

Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers. Then parents can do the cutting.

Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.

Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and not on a porch or any path where visitors may pass close by. They should never be left unattended.

Safety at home:

To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove anything a child could trip over, such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations on the front lawn or porch.

Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.

Wet leaves or snow should be swept from sidewalks and steps.

Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater or run away.

Southport Police have important safety tips for Halloween. (Photo by Nicole Davis)

The trick-or-treat path:

A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.

Have flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.

If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.

Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.

Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.

Remember reflective tape for costumes and trick-or-treat bags.

Carry a cellphone for quick communication, however, children and adults are reminded to put electronic devices down, keep heads up and walk, don’t run, across the street.

Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.

If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.

Never cut across yards or use alleys.

Teach your children to never enter a stranger’s home or vehicle.

Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out of driveways.

Don’t assume the right-of-way. Motorists may have trouble seeing trick-or-treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn’t mean others will!

Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.

Watch for children walking on roadways, medians and curbs,

Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.

At twilight and later in the evening, watch for children in dark clothing.

Discourage new, inexperienced drivers from driving on Halloween.

Keep Halloween healthy:

A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.

Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.

Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.

Try to ration treats for the days and weeks following Halloween.

Check the Halloween treats:

Halloween can be tricky for children with food allergies. It’s important that parents closely examine Halloween candy to avoid a potentially life-threatening reaction.

Always read the ingredient label on treats. Many popular Halloween candies contain some of the most common allergens, such as peanuts or tree nuts, milk, egg, soy or wheat.

If the ingredients aren’t listed, arrange for a treat “exchange” with classmates or friends. Or bag up the goodies your child can’t eat because of an allergy and leave them with a note asking the “Treat Fairy” to swap them for a prize.

Be aware that even if they are not listed on the ingredient label, candy is at high risk of containing trace amounts of common allergy triggers, because factories often produce many different products. Also, “fun size” or miniature candies may have different ingredients or be made on different equipment than the regular size candies, meaning that brands your child previously ate without problems could cause a reaction.

Teach your child to politely turn down home-baked items such as cupcakes and brownies, and never to taste or share another child’s food.