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PUBLISHED: 2:03 PM on Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Children's safety is the best treat for Halloween

  Keep children safe this Halloween. Inspect candy as well as costumes for possible hazards.
When autumn breezes blow around the first of the fallen leaves, children across the country realize that Halloween will soon arrive. Many put their little noses to the grindstone to devise the year's biggest Halloween party and best costume without even thinking about safety.

Parents, on the other hand, always have safety and security concerns in the back of their minds as their children prepare for Halloween haunts and costume creation.

The mix of bulky costumes, masks and darkness can make trick-or-treating a harrowing event. Without taking proper precautions, Halloween could be a recipe for danger. But it doesn't have to be.

You can keep little ghosts and ghouls safe, by heeding some important advice from Prevent Blindness America.

* Be visible -- Trips, falls or accidents are all possible on a dark evening. If children are traveling at night, they should wear bright, reflective clothing or place reflective patches on their costume. Have little ones carry flashlights or glow sticks to illuminate sidewalks, steps and paths to houses.

* Protect vision -- Informal surveys show that the rate of eye injuries increases during Halloween. Instead of masks or other props that can injure the eyes, try hypoallergenic makeup. Follow product guidelines about placing makeup directly around the eyes. Remove the makeup with a gentle cold cream, not soap and water, which can irritate the eyes. Avoid costumes with wigs, hats, masks or eye patches that compromise vision. Also, stay away from pointed accessories such as spears, swords or wands that can possibly harm other children's eyes.

* Use common sense -- Younger children should be accompanied by an adult while traveling about the neighborhood. Older children should trick-or-treat in groups to maximize safety. Make sure children don't dart between parked cars or travel through dark paths such as alleys. Avoid streets under construction. Don't trick-or-treat in busy commercial areas or near heavy traffic. Obey all traffic signals, both as a pedestrian and as a driver.

* Be aware of danger -- Inspect all trick-or-treat items before allowing children to have them. If a house or homeowner looks "sketchy," move on to another one. Conversely, if a trick-or-treater rings your bell and you feel threatened, do not open the door. Instruct children not to answer the door when it becomes dark, or distribute Halloween candy yourself.

* Keep pets safe -- Place pets away from the front door and trick-or-treaters. If you leave your animal in the backyard, there are too many opportunities for them to be harmed by pranksters or passers-by.

* Create safer options -- If you don't like going door-to-door with youngsters in the evening, try to schedule it during daylight hours. Or coordinate a Halloween party at your house and invite the neighborhood children. This is safer than trick-or-treating at any time.


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