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Halloween safety tips, services roundup

Posted at 4:43 PM, Oct 29, 2013
and last updated 2018-10-31 07:26:53-04

If our recent series on flaws in the sex offender registry or dog attacks has you fretting trick-or-treating this year, fear not.

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A number of amiable institutions are offering tips and services to keep you, your children and your pets safe this Halloween season.

Patient First medical centers are offering up their X-ray machines for free candy-scans between 6 and 9 p.m. Thursday Oct. 31. The scan will detect glass, metal and or plastic objects that would—obviously—be harmful for children to eat.

“Parents still need to provide supervision since some foreign materials may not appear in X-rays,” David Clark, a spokesman for Patient First in Maryland, said.

Patient First centers are also giving out safety blinkers for children while supplies last.

Tips for a safe Halloween from Patient First:

  • Wear bright clothing or reflective gear. Attach reflective tape to kids' costumes so they are easier for drivers to see.
  • Have an adult accompany younger trick-or-treaters (12 and under). For little kids, attach a piece of paper with your child’s name, address and an adult’s phone number inside the pocket of their costume in case they get separated.
  • Encourage older children to trick-or-treat with a group of friends, an older sibling, or an adult. Don’t allow them to trick-or-treat in an unfamiliar neighborhood, and set a time for everyone to return home. If possible, make sure these older children have a cell phone for the night.
  • Stick to a pre-determined neighborhood route that they know well, don’t deviate from it, and carry a flashlight. Know the route that your children will be taking.
  • Review road safety rules before the little monsters go outside. Make sure they use crosswalks when available, walk only on sidewalks, and do not run from house to house.
  • Don’t let children snack on candy while trick-or-treating, and inspect everything when you get home.  Discard anything that isn’t sealed, is torn, or looks questionable. 
  • Dress for the forecast. Temperatures can drop quickly on a clear autumn night. Make sure that your trick-or-treater stays warm with an extra layer of clothes under the costume.

Insurance company State Farm noted that Halloween is the “deadliest day for child pedestrian accidents” annually.

Over a 21-year study, 115 child pedestrians have been struck and killed, averaging 5.5 fatalities annually, according to Sperling’s. Nearly one quarter of the accidents were reported between 6 and 7 p.m. View the full findings of the study here.

State Farm offered the following tips for Halloween night:

If you're going door-to-door:

Always accompany young children.

Exercise great caution during the "deadliest" hours: between 5 and 9 p.m. The study shows that the hour between 6 and 7 p.m. is especially dangerous for pedestrian accidents.

Stick to neighborhoods with sidewalks. If you must walk on the street, keep to the far left, facing traffic.

Practice safe crossing procedures: Use crosswalks; wait for corners; and look left, right and left again before crossing.

Stick reflective tape onto costumes to make your child more visible. Also have him or her carry a flashlight.

Make sure costumes and shoes are the correct size to prevent tripping. Use face paint and leave the masks at home: They can obstruct vision.

If an older child is venturing out without supervision, ask that he or she go with a group, discuss the route and agree on a curfew. Give older kids cell phones so they can stay in touch.

If you're driving:

Be alert for children and eliminate in-car distractions.

Drive slowly.

Practice extra caution at intersections and corners.

Pull in and out of driveways carefully.

Discuss these and other driving pointers with your  teen driver. Drivers ages 15–25 were involved in around one-third of fatal accidents involving child pedestrians on Halloween, according to the study.

If you're passing out treats at home:

Keep your home brightly lit indoors and outside.

Clear debris and other obstacles from your lawn, sidewalks and steps.

Opt for battery-operated candles in jack-o'-lanterns or other areas where costumed trick-or-treaters might stand.

Keep pets kenneled or in another room. 

In addition to protecting children from accidents, remind kids of stranger danger on Halloween. Teach children to visit only well-lit homes, to avoid dark streets and to not enter homes that aren't their own. Kids should show all their loot to parents before eating any of it. Homemade treats from people they don't know shouldn't be eaten.

The top 6 trick-or-treat dangers, according to Doctors Express are:

• Car Accidents - The American College of Emergency Physicians says children are twice as likely to be killed by a car while walking on Halloween night. Doctors recommend children carry flashlights, and stick reflective tape all over costumes and loot bags so drivers can easily spot them. Dress kids in glow-in-the-dark costumes so they really stand out. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, nearly 60 percent of Halloween highway fatalities involve impaired drivers, so partying adults should be sure to have a designated driver.
• Wounds and stabbings - Swords and knives make for fun adventures but not when they hurt someone. Doctors will see a lot of accidental stabbings and even eye wounds when people accidently pierce someone with these costume accessories. Buy costume weapons made only of flexible material.
• Fright Night fires and burns - Pumpkins with candles inside are decorative for sure, but they’re a real fire hazard. Imagine the danger when children dressed in flowing ghost and princess outfits walk up your steps, knock over that pumpkin and catch their costume on fire. Replace real flame candles with battery operated candles. Also, make sure you read costume labels carefully and dress children only in “flame resistant” materials.
• Allergic reactions /infections  - ‘Tis the holiday for crazy makeup, body paint and contact lenses that can cause serious allergic reactions and infections. Test makeup and body paint on a section of the arm to make sure there is no reaction. The FDA says stores shouldn’t sell contact lenses without a proper measuring and fitting, but some costume shops carry them anyway. No one should wear decorative lenses unless they’ve been fitted by an eye care professional. 
• Cuts, bruises and broken bones - Dressed in outlandish costumes and masks, Halloween partygoers and trick-or-treaters will trip, fall and hurt themselves. In fact, falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury on Halloween, according to the National Safety Council. Make sure eye openings on masks are wide enough so wearers can see clearly. Be careful of decorative high heels or wacky shoes and slippers that make it difficult to walk. Children, should keep costumes as tight fitting and as short as possible so they don’t trip. 
• Stomach aches and nausea – Eat dinner or a snack before hitting the town to trick-or-treat or before heading to a costume party. Overindulging in alcoholic beverages or candy can lead to sickness and vomiting on an empty stomach. Avoid digging in a basket or bag of candy and scooping out a handful of germs. It’s better if a homeowner hands out a piece or two. 

The Maryland SPCA meanwhile is equally concerned about the safety of your four-legged friends. Here are the top safety tips for pets:

1)     No human Halloween treats for

Candies containing xylitol and chocolate can be poisonous to pets.

Candy wrappers can cause intestinal blockages.

Candy can often remain in the house for weeks after Halloween.  Designate a cupboard that your pets can’t reach for storing Halloween treats.  Remind your children that candy is hazardous to the health of their pets.

2)     Safety first when decorating for Halloween.

The flicker of a lit candle inside a carved jack-o’-lantern is very tempting for a pet.   To reduce the risk of fire and burns from a pet overturning or getting too close to that lit jack-o’-latern, use a battery operated candle.

While non-toxic, pumpkins can upset a pet’s stomach if chewed on.  Keep jack-o’-lanterns out of reach.

Prevent your pets from chewing on decorations or cords to decorations by keeping decorations off the floor (and counter if your pets can reach it).  Limit decorations to outside your home.

3)     Reduce Halloween stress for your pets.

Provide exercise for your pets before trick-or-treating starts.

Keep pets inside the house away from trick-or-treaters either in their crate or in a room far from the front door.

Provide your pets with their beds and favorite toys. (Kong toy to occupy them)

Spray your pets’ beds/blankets with lavender calming spray for pets.

4)     Always keep current identification tags on your pets.

Whether you take your pets trick-or-treating with you or keep them at home (which is preferred), make sure your pets are wearing current identification tags should they get loose from you or your home.

If you do plan to take your pets trick-or-treating, keep them leashed at all times.

5)      Choose safe, comfortable costumes for your pets.

Make sure the costume doesn’t impede your pet’s ability to breath, walk, drink or go to the bathroom.

Check your pet’s costume for any choking hazards (buttons, bells, etc.)

A bandana is a nice comfortable alternative to a costume.