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October 24, 2006 > Make Your Halloween Fun and Safe

Make Your Halloween Fun and Safe

Growing up in San Antonio, Texas during the 1950s, Dr. David Orenberg faced an unusual Halloween hazard:

“When I was in 4th grade, I made the biggest Halloween candy score ever,” he recalls. “I got bags and bags and bags full of candy, which I kept in my room. In the middle of the night, I woke up to what I thought was the sound of birds chirping, so I went to get my father. He came back with me to my room and turned on the lights, at which point a multitude of field mice came jumping out of the bags of candy. After that, I took precautions to safeguard my ‘treasure’ of trick-or-treat candy.”

These days, as Emergency Services Medical Director at Washington Hospital, Dr. Orenberg knows that Halloween hazards aren’t limited to invasions of field mice. “Every once in awhile, we see stories in the news about children receiving tainted candy, motorists running over children who dart out into the streets, children being injured when they trip and fall because their costumes don’t fit properly, even costumes catching on fire because children were playing with the candles in jack-o-lanterns. By observing some common-sense precautions, parents can help ensure their kids have fun on Halloween while staying safe.”

Dr. Orenberg suggests feeding your children a good meal prior to trick-or-treating to discourage children from indulging themselves in Halloween candy as they go door-to-door. “Most people these days give out individually wrapped candies or treats, so it’s unlikely the candy has been tampered with,” he says. “Nevertheless, it’s a good idea for parents to inspect their children’s treats before allowing them to dig in.”

Other tips for having a safe Halloween celebration include:

  • Have a parent or responsible adult accompany young children while trick-or-treating.

  • With older children, make sure they travel in a group along a pre-designated route and agree on a specific time for returning home.

  • Never enter a stranger’s home or car while trick-or-treating.

  • Have children wear light-colored or reflective costumes that are flame resistant.

  • Make sure children’s shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping.

  • Encourage the use of non-toxic face paint or makeup instead of masks, which can limit or block children’s vision.

  • Use battery-powered flashlights or lanterns instead of candles for trick-or-treating and for home decorations.

  • Stay on well-lit streets and use the sidewalk; if no sidewalk is available, walk at the farthest edge of the roadway facing traffic.

  • Caution children to look both ways before crossing the street and to cross only at street corners.

  • Don’t assume that motorist will stop for you, even in a crosswalk.

  • Supervise your children carefully while creating jack-o-lanterns; let young children create the design and have an adult perform the actual carving.

  • Instruct your children not to eat any unwrapped food items or drink any open beverages.

“If you live in a neighborhood that has a lot of heavy traffic or other safety concerns, you might want to host a Halloween party at home or see if any businesses or community organizations in the area have an organized event,” Dr. Orenberg adds. “And don’t forget to store your children’s candy where the field mice can’t get it!”
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