LiveSmart: Keep the Scares Fun this Halloween — Be Safe!

[This piece was written by Diane Tenenbaum, MD, of St. Peter’s Children’s Health Center.]

This Saturday is the big night! Your little pirates, “Frozen” Elsas, and Iron Men have probably been on edge the entire past week, anxiously awaiting Halloween and the attendant parties and trick or treating. Before you head out, though, a few simple precautions can make sure everyone has a safe and fun time.

Safety Begins at Home

  • Small children should never carve pumpkins. They can draw a face with markers, then parents can do the cutting.
  • Opt for a battery-powered tealight to illuminate your pumpkin instead of a candle. If you do choose a candle, place the pumpkin on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and never left unattended.
  • Keep the front yard clear of hoses, toys, bikes and other obstacles, such as wet leaves.
  • Have the outdoor lights working.
  • Keep pets away from trick-or-treaters, as well as the treats you are handing out.

On the Trek for Treats

  • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective and don’t allow for entanglements or contact with flame.
  • Only buy costumes with labels saying they are flame-resistant. Review “stop, drop and roll” in case of fire.
  • Think twice before allowing simulated knives, guns or swords.
  • Teach children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they have an emergency or become lost.
  • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young kids.
  • If your older children are going alone, plan the route and set a time for them to return home.
  • Only go to homes that you know and have a porch light on. Never enter a home or car for a treat.

Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remember:

  • Carry flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and escorts.
  • Stay in a group on well-lit streets and sidewalks.
  • Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn’t mean others will!
  • Tell the police immediately about any suspicious or unlawful activity.

Keeping it Healthy

  • Have a good meal beforehand to discourage youngsters from filling up on treats.
  • When the kids return, throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious treats.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children ages 5 and younger should not be allowed hard candies. For that group, hard candies are the number one food choking hazard to result in an emergency room visit.
  • Be sure to give teeth an extra-good flossing and brushing that night to remove sugars and decrease the opportunity for decay.

St. Peter’s Children’s Health Center (1092 Madison Avenue, Albany – 525-2445) offers a complete range of services for children from newborns to age 18. Services include well-child routine care, sick child exams, school and camp physicals, sports physicals, immunizations, health maintenance and education, and access to other hospital services and referrals to specialists.

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