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Make This Halloween a Safe and Healthy One

BINGHAMTON, NY - Don’t let Halloween spook you. Turn a tricky holiday into a celebration by following a few health and safety tips.

Be sure your child’s costume is easy-to-wear, highly visible and made of flame-resistant material. Avoid any long, dangling pieces that a child might trip over, and provide soft, flexible accessories. Diane O’Hora, Supervising Public Health Educator for the Broome County Health Department states that a snug-fitting mask with large eyeholes, or preferably make-up, and flat, sturdy shoes are essential. Also, attach reflective stickers, patches or tape to the costume, and give the child a flashlight.

Before decorating a child’s face, test the paint, cream or make-up on a small patch of his or her skin. If a rash or skin irritation develops, try hypoallergenic makeup, substitute a mask, leave your child’s face makeup free, or try a different type of decorative solution. Masks can often limit a child’s vision, so make-up is a safer option.

Before your youngsters head out the door, know the route they will take, and review traffic safety rules: Look both ways before crossing the street; walk, don’t run; obey traffic signs, etc. Tell children to stay on sidewalks, and avoid running through yards.

Children should never enter a stranger’s house, and children under age 12 should never trick-or-treat alone. An adult should accompany young children, and older children should trick or treat in groups. Daylight trick or treating is safer than going out after dark. Consider a Halloween party for your children; they are safer than going trick or treating any time.

If you will be handing out treats, keep your property well lit and free of items children might trip over, such as toys, bicycles, garden hoses, lawn chairs, and lawn ornaments. Sweep your sidewalk and steps of wet leaves.

Instead of candy, consider giving away healthier treats. Stickers, temporary tattoos, trading cards, colorful pencils, crayons, colored chalk, prepackaged cheese and crackers or pretzels are treats children will love.

When they return from trick-or-treating, instruct your children not to eat any goodies until you inspect them, and throw away unwrapped items.

When carving that jack-o-lantern, allow children under 5 to draw the face on the jack-o-lantern, then parents can do the cutting. Under parents’ supervision, children five to ten can carve with pumpkin cutters. Votive candles are safest for candlelit pumpkins. Make sure the lighted candle is placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects and never leave unattended.

Finally, Ms. O’Hora warns motorists to drive with extra caution. In their excitement, trick-or-treaters may forget the safety rules and dart in front of cars.

For more information about Halloween safety, contact the Broome County Health Department at 607.778.3921.