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Halloween Safety

Halloween is a magical time for children, but every year the holiday is marred by accidents. These safety tips will help keep your children safe. Of course the safest is to only go to church or school carnivals.

Establish a route for the children to take, in a known neighborhood. Tell them to use flashlights if they go out after dusk, stay on sidewalks, avoid crossing yards, and cross streets at the corner-not between parked cars. Children should stop at all corners and stay together in a group before crossing the street. They should go only to well-lit houses and remain on the porch rather than going inside.

Young children should be accompanied by an adult. They should have their names and addresses on their costumes, know their phone number, and have coins to make a call. Children old enough to go out alone should have a curfew.

Masks can obstruct vision and hearing. Try to talk your child out of wearing one, and if that's not possible, make sure eye and ear holes are sufficiently large. Face paint is a good substitute, but it should be nontoxic and hypoallergenic.

Costumes should be flame-retardant, fit property, and be marked with reflective tape. Avoid oversized shoes, high heels, trailing skirts or pants that your child could trip on, and floppy hats than might obscure vision. If a knife or sword is part of the costume, these toy weapons should be flexible-not rigid or sharp.

Small children should not carve pumpkins. They can be allowed to draw a face on the pumpkin with markers, then let you do the cutting. Children over 5 can carve their own jack-o'-lanterns, using special pumpkin cutters that come with safety bars.

If you light the jack-o'-lantern with a candle, votive candies are safest. Place lighted pumpkins on a sturdy table, away from the door and from curtains and other flammable objects. Never leave them unattended.

Tell children to bring all their treats home, so you can check them out. Watch for signs of tampering, such as small pinholes in wrappers and torn o loose packaging. Look for small items like gum, peanuts, hard candy, or small toys that pose a choking hazard for younger children.

To keep your home safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, remove any hazards-garden hoses, toys, bikes, lawn decorations-a child could trip over. Make sure the entrance is well-lit, replace any burned-out bulbs, and sweep wet leaves from sidewalks and steps.

If you're out in a car on Halloween, drive slowly, watch for children, and exit driveways with care,

Sources American Academy of Pediatrics, US Consumer Products Safety Commission, and the National SAFE KIDS Campaign,

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