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Stay Safe This Halloween

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Halloween is two weeks away and a study just released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirms what many parents already know…trick-or-treating may sometimes lead to unfortunate accidents.

The CDC found that children are four times more likely to be hit by a car on Halloween night than on any other night of the year. With excited children running from house to house and across streets in the dark of night one can understand how a tragic accident might occur.

An estimated 40 million children between the ages of 5 – 14 will be out on Halloween night and while it is important to load up on candy, you want to stress safety and injury prevention trick or treating.  It is best to establish a few “ground rules” prior to the big night and then to review them again before heading out the door. It sometimes takes more than one discussion for “the rules” to sink in.

To help with injury prevention pick costumes that do not drag and masks that do not obstruct a child’s vision. Make sure that your child’s shoes fit properly, so that they do not fall or trip as they are walking and running. Try to buy costumes that have reflective strips to help with visibility. You can even add reflective tape to homemade costumes.

All costumes should be flame retardant as there are many houses (including mine) where the pumpkin is carved and may have a candle for illumination. Young children should be taught to stay away from a lit jack o lantern.

Plan on trick or treating in groups and always have adult supervision. For younger children hand holding should be the routine as you go from yard to yard, and as children get older you might have a planned route with definitive meeting points (maybe at the end of each block).

All trick or treaters should have a flashlight to help with visibility as well. Remind children about darting out from behind parked cars and to look both ways. Use sidewalks whenever possible.

Costumes that may have wands, swords, pitchforks, guns etc.  may also cause injury. Make sure that they are made from safe flexible material and that they are not sharp. Running and falling on sharp objects may also lead to injury.

Lastly, remind children to only eat candy that is fully wrapped unless they have received a homemade “goodie” from a close friend or neighbor. At the end of the night, it is always a good idea to help your child go through their candy bag and dispose of any unwrapped candy. (also a good time to grab a piece for yourself as well).

Have a great time on Halloween and take lots of pictures, because these too are special memories!

That’s your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow.

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