Prevent Halloween from becoming a nightmare


By Mike Baldyga
Special to The PREVIEW

The risk of a child being hit by a car is roughly four times higher on Halloween than on any other night of the year. That’s when more than 40 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 hit the trick-or-treat trails.

The nation’s emergency physicians have some advice to help parents prevent their child from ending up in the emergency room because of an injury that could have been easily prevented.

“Halloween is a special night that should be shared with family and friends,” said Dr. Michael Gerardi, president-elect of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). “You don’t want to remember it as the time you were in the ER for an injury that could have been avoided.”

Emergency physicians recommend that children “trick-or-treat” at organized Halloween festivities, such as local churches, community centers or schools. That way children are not walking in the dark, and it allows constant adult supervision.

In addition, ACEP suggests that adults follow tips for a safe and fun Halloween:

• Make sure your child stays on the sidewalks as much as possible (off streets) and obeys all traffic signals.

• Discuss the importance of staying together in a group. Require at least one adult to serve as chaperone during trick-or-treat gatherings.

• Make sure your child knows the potential dangers from strangers. Make sure they know never to accept rides from strangers or visit unfamiliar homes or areas.

• Avoid costumes that could cause children to trip, such as baggy pants, long hems, high heels and oversized shoes.

• Avoid costumes that obstruct your child’s sight or vision.

• Avoid masks if possible. If your child must wear one, make sure it is well ventilated.

• Make sure costume fabric, wigs and beards are made of flame-resistant materials, such as nylon or polyester.

• Keep candlelit Jack-O-Lanterns away from children so they can’t get burned or set on fire.

• Make sure costumes are visible at night; avoid dark colors. Add reflective tape to costumes so your child is more visible to motor vehicles.

• Make sure you see all the candy before your child eats it. Avoid candy not wrapped in its original wrapper, as well as all fruit.

• Take a flashlight while trick-or-treating as visibility decreases long before it gets really dark.

• Check accessories such as swords, knives, wands and other pointed objects. Make sure they are made from flexible materials and have dulled edges.