The Edmond Sun

October 29, 2012

Make safety a priority to ensure Halloween fun

By Trisha Gedon
Special to The Sun

STILLWATER — Halloween is eagerly anticipated by many children around the state, but the excitement of the night can cause children to be careless and forgetful.

Making Halloween a real treat for the entire family requires following some safety measures, said Laura Hubbs-Tait, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension parenting specialist.

“Each year there are princesses, super heroes, ballerinas, ghosts and now angry birds and other new characters that will be walking through neighborhoods around the country,” Hubbs-Tait said. “Making sure the costume itself is safe is the first step to a memorable and safe Halloween.”

If the costume is dark in color, adorn it with reflective tape to make the child more visible. Be sure to use fire-retardant materials. It also is important to make sure the costume fits properly. Clothing that has a cape or tail that is too long can be a tripping hazard.

Hubbs-Tait said it is a good idea for children not to wear a mask.

“Masks can obstruct a child’s vision, which can lead to falls and other dangers,” she said. “Face makeup also is a problem. Other years have seen recalls in child face makeup products. Cosmetics may contain heavy metals or other unsafe ingredients. Further, the rapidly changing landscape of the cosmetics industry means that we really don’t know how the ingredients in cosmetics affect children over the long term. It is better to go with some of the online recipes for edible face paint and fake blood as long as you are familiar with the safety of the ingredients and know your child is not allergic to them.”

Before letting children go out into the neighborhood, parents need to establish a set of rules and go over the route trick-or-treaters intend to follow.

“Children 12 and under should be accompanied by an adult or an older responsible youth,” said Gina Peek, OSU Cooperative Extension consumer and housing specialist. “Stop only at houses where you know the people, and tell children not to eat any of the candy until they get home and parents have had a chance to inspect it.”

Children should remain on the sidewalks and not walk in the street. Children also must check for traffic and look both ways before crossing the street, and they should cross only at corners.

Children darting out between parked cars can easily get hurt in traffic. It is always a good idea to carry a flashlight in case street lights are not on. This not only helps the trick-or-treater see better, but also makes them more visible to drivers.

“Not only should children be more cautious, but adults who are driving trick-or-treaters to other neighborhoods need to be more aware as well,” Peek said. “In the excitement of the moment a child may run across the street without checking traffic.”

Motorists are encouraged to be extra careful and drive slowly through neighborhoods where there are a lot of trick-or-treaters.

Hubbs-Tait also pointed out the same safety precautions should be followed for large Halloween events.

She said many towns may host trick-or-treating at the local fairgrounds, nursing home or community center. Also, some college and university dorms may allow ghosts and goblins to come in and trick-or-treat.

“Make sure your children pay attention to the traffic in parking lots at events such as these. There can be a lot of excitement at these large venues and children and parents must pay attention to their surroundings in order to ensure safety,” Hubbs-Tait said.

Following these safety tips will help guarantee that all ghosts, goblins and parents have a safe and enjoyable holiday.