ALL DRESSED UP:
- 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 to prevent them from sliding over eyes.
- 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 too long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
- Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
- Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as “one size fits all,” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” obtaining 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/
HOME SAFE HOME:
- To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
- 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.
ON THE TRICK-OR-TREAT TRAIL:
- A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
- 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.
- Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or-Treaters:
- 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.
- 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.
- Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out 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.
Confine pets during trick-or-treating hours. Tricksters may lurk on Halloween, seeking opportunity to practice their pranks. Toilet-papering trees, smashing pumpkins, and pestering pets are perennial Halloween activities for goblin wannabees. By keeping family pets confined indoors during trick-or-treating hours, animal lovers can ensure that their own animal friends do not become quarry to mischief makers on Halloween.
Reptiles and exotic pets should not be used as Halloween decorations or costume props, as the excitement might lead to dangerous situations for these animals or to unsuspecting humans.
Well-behaved pets accompanying their owners for trick-or-treating should be securely leashed – for their own safety and that of anyone they may encounter. Even familiar friends may seem unfamiliar and threatening to a pet, if these folks are costumed.
Keep Halloween candy away from pets. Chocolate, nuts, taffies, and other Halloween candies can be poisonous for pets. Even candy wrappings may cause choking or digestive distress in dogs, cats, or other animals. Pet owners do well to keep Halloween candy and treats out of pets’ reach.
Of course, if a pet does manage to consume Halloween candy, a call to the veterinarian, local animal hospital or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) is warranted.
Display pumpkins and candles well out of pets’ reach. Pets should be monitored around Halloween decorations.
Jack-o-lanterns are intriguing to pets. Those flickering candles may taunt and tempt cats or dogs to play. However, these Halloween displays pose definite fire and burn hazards.
Also, cornstalks, gourds, Indian corn, mums, plastic Halloween figurines, silk and dried flowers, and other seasonal decorations may cause choking or illness to pets, if ingested.
Store Halloween display electrical cords securely. Colored lights, plug-in pumpkins, spooky noisemakers, flashing strobe lights, backlit Halloween signs, and other electrical decorations can also be dangerous, if pets chew or play with cords. Power cords must be tethered neatly out of reach.
Keep glow accessories away from pets. Glow bracelets, necklaces, sticks, wands are popular on Halloween. In addition, these light-up accessories can make trick or treaters more visible to motorists, adding to youngsters’ safety after dark.
At the same time, though, these accessories contain chemicals that are toxic to pets, so animals must not be allowed to chew on them.
Use pet-friendly costumes only. Increasingly, pet owners are dressing up their cats, dogs, and other pets for Halloween. Of course, animals’ costumes need to be comfortable, fire-retardant, and non-restrictive. Safe costumes will also be free of choking hazards and not block pets’ vision or breathing in any way.
Tag pets with current identification. As doorbells ring and pet owners greet countless trick or treaters on Halloween, even the most timid house pets may slip outdoors unexpectedly. Cats, dogs and other pets should wear collars with identification tags, particularly if they are allowed the run of the house on Halloween.
Many pet owners also identify their animals with microchips or tattoos, which may be read by any veterinarian. Accurate identification can make retrieval of a lost pet much simpler and faster.
Pet safety can make Halloween more fun for everyone, especially those beloved four-legged domesticated animal friends.
Be alert. While you should always be on high guard for possible obstructions and hazards when behind the wheel, Halloween night means lots of little ghosts and goblins on and near the road. Be especially cautious when pulling in and out of driveways, and never assume that children see you or are paying attention. It is your responsibility to help keep them out of harm’s way.
Refrain from cellphone use. Again, staying off the cellphone while driving is always a good idea, but is extra important on Halloween. You are likely to be four times more distracted while chatting on the phone and that distraction could easily result in tragedy thanks to the greater number of road hazards.
Check your headlights and brakes. Before nightfall, make certain that your vehicle’s headlights and brakes are in excellent working condition so that visibility and maneuverability aren’t a problem.
Drive slowly and non-aggressively. Keep your speed below the posted limit and stay aware of cars stopped in the middle of the road or by the curb. They may be dropping off children. If you are driving children around the neighborhood, be sure to make your intentions clear by using hazard lights.
Enjoy Halloween parties responsibly. Planning to drink at a Halloween get-together? Plan ahead even more and designate a driver or have cab service numbers on hand (having both is your safest bet).
Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics, www.thepetloversguide.com, www.examiner.com, www.americanprideautomotive.com