A safe Halloween is always a treat according to the staff at UCSD Medical Center and the California Poison Control System-San Diego Division, located at UCSD Medical Center. The following are safety precautions for parents to help them keep Halloween safe:
Tips for Trick-or-Treating
- An adult should accompany young children, and Halloween visits should be limited to familiar, local neighbors.
- Carry a flashlight after dusk and watch for cars.
- Walkways and lawns should be made safe by removing obstacles and leaving outside lights on.
- Stay away from barking dogs or other upset animals.
- Choose costumes with light or bright colors, which can be seen by drivers.
- Use reflective tape on costumes and trick-or-treat bags so that they are highly visible.
- Feed children before they go trick-or-treating. Select a small amount of candy or other food to eat while trick-or-treating, so they won’t be tempted to eat from the bag before their treats can be checked.
- Insist the child bring back the treat bag for examination before he or she eats any items. Look carefully at all treats to detect signs of tampering. Discard any treats not packaged in the original wrapper. Throw away unwrapped candy, candy with faded, torn or holes in the wrappers, or show signs of re-wrapping.
- Parents with children of different ages should sort the candies to make sure that younger kids don't get hold of small hard candies, peanuts or other objects that may get lodged in a youngster's throat.
- Some treats, especially chocolate, can be poisonous to pets.
- This year, kick the Halloween candy habit by offering pencils, small pads, crayons, stickers, tiny finger puppets, or tissue ghosts wrapped around sugar-free lollipops.
Feed children before they go trick-or-treating. Select a small amount of candy or other food to eat while trick-or-treating, so they won’t be tempted to eat from the bag before their treats can be checked.
- Halloween costumes need not be expensive. Scare up a costume from a local thrift store or create an outfit from items at home. Look for costumes, wigs and masks which are labeled flame resistant and with room enough to allow a child to dress warmly underneath. Flame resistant does not mean the fabric won't catch fire, only that it will resist burning.
- Face paints, glues and glitters should be made of non-toxic materials. Parents should be aware that some children have allergic reactions to these products, such as a rash or itching. If this occurs, remove the make-up immediately and thoroughly clean the skin with mild soap and water.
- If a mask is worn, make sure the child has full vision and it should be easy to breathe through.
- Costumes should be short enough to prevent the child from tripping and flat shoes should be worn. Also, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts should be avoided.
Pumpkin Carving/Jack O’Lanterns
- Children can have fun drawing a face on a pumpkin and scraping out the contents, but an adult should do the carving.
- Jack O’Lanterns with candles should be watched carefully and should be placed where they cannot start a fire.
- Halloween also means parties for parents. Parents should make sure all alcohol and cigarette butts are cleaned up. These items can poison small children.
Poison Center staff members stress that careful review of all treats by parents is the best prevention for poisoning incidents. Parents who find any candy that has been tampered with should report the incident to the Police Department. If children are experiencing any symptoms following ingestion of food or candy, parents should call the California Poison Control System-San Diego Division at (800) 876-4766. The Center is open 24-hours per day, seven days a week.
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