2008-10-30 / Front Page

Halloween safety keeps the trick or treating fun

By Eileen M. Daly

Pumpkins are all lined up in their fall splendor at Hodgkiss farm. Photo by Jeff McDonough Pumpkins are all lined up in their fall splendor at Hodgkiss farm. Photo by Jeff McDonough It won't be long before Jamestown is invaded by hordes of little ghosts and goblins. Common sense and some basic safety tips from the American Red Cross can help to insure a safe and happy holiday for all.

Shopping for a Halloween costume can be an exciting time for everyone, but it's also a good time to start thinking about safety. Halloween costumes should be brightly colored or have reflectors attached so that trick-or-treaters are visible to motorists. It is also a good idea to attach reflectors to bags, skateboards, brooms or any other object a child is taking with them on Halloween night. Look for costumes that are flame retardant and make sure they are short enough to prevent kids from tripping. Face make-up is a better option than masks, but if a mask is a musthave, then make sure the eyeholes are large enough to allow for peripheral vision.

Pumpkin carving is a fun filled activity that many families look forward to each year. In order to insure that it is also a safe activity, small children should never be allowed to use a sharp knife. A better option would be to paint faces on the pumpkins rather than carve them. If carving is a tradition you don't want to give up then look into purchasing a carving kit with a tiny saw and always make sure there is an adult supervising.

A good, satisfying meal prior to trick-or-treating will help stave off the desire to sample the treats before bringing them home to Mom and Dad for inspection. Commercially produced, unopened treats are the safest bet. Fruit or homemade treats should only be consumed if they come from a trusted friend or family member.

Children should never go out to trick-or-treat alone; an adult or responsible older sibling should accompany younger children and older children should always travel in groups. All children should be reminded to stick to sidewalks whenever possible, to look both ways before crossing streets, to only cross the street at corners and to never dart out into the street from between parked cars.

If children are going out without an adult, it is important that an adult know the route they are planning to take and the time they are expected to be home. At least one child in the group should be carrying a cell phone and each child should have a plan for the possibility of being separated from the group.

When going house to house, children should be alert to possible hazards: pumpkins with lit candles, animals that may not recognize them in costume and may be afraid, objects that might cause a fall or any other potentially hazardous situations. Remind children that as exciting as trick-or-treating can be, it is important for them to remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings. A flashlight with fresh batteries is an important necessity to insure that accidents do not happen.

Children should only visit houses that are well lit, treats should only be accepted at the front door and children should be reminded to never get into a car or go into the home of someone they do not know. It is best for them to stick to neighborhoods that are familiar to them and to avoid taking short cuts or cutting through dark paths.

Children should know the difference between harmless tricks and vandalism. A frank discussion about expectations for respecting other people's property and possessions should take place well prior to Halloween night. This will do a lot to prevent misunderstandings, hurt feelings and will help to insure that your trick-or-treater stays on the right side of the law.

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