Dr. Dana Johnson: Halloween Safety

Originally published on October 30, 2013, in the Wisconsin State Journal. Dr. Johnson is a pediatrician practicing at the Meriter McKee clinic.

The leaves are changing color, the temperatures are dropping and the ghouls are coming out. Each year, I enjoy seeing all the children dress up for Halloween. However, as adults we have to remember to keep safety a priority. On average, twice as many kids are killed while walking on Halloween compared with other days of the year. Whether a parent, a homeowner or someone driving on Halloween, we all have an important role in keeping children safe.

For parents: Pick a safe costume for your child.

  • Flame resistant.
  • Comfortable and appropriately fitting shoes and costume so they won’t trip.
  • Props that are soft and flexible so they won’t cause injury if fallen on.
  • Face painting is preferred to masks, because masks can obstruct vision. If using a face mask, make sure there are large eye holes. Test makeup on a small area first and remove before bed to prevent skin irritation.
  • Add reflective tape to costumes and treat bags, and have your kids carry glowsticks and flashlights.
  • Parents should also bring a flashlight and a cell phone.
  • Young children should be with an adult.
  • Older children should go with at least two other children. They should have a planned route and time to be home (wear a watch). Discuss safety before they leave.

For children:

  • Only go to homes with lights on.
  • Do not enter the home.
  • Do not take candy from people in cars.
  • Follow traffic safety rules: Cross at corners. Walk on sidewalks or the left side of the road facing traffic when a sidewalk is not available. Don’t cut across yards.
  • Eat dinner before trick-or-treating to prevent over-consumption of candy. Parents should inspect candy before consumption. Tampering is rare, but any candy that is not in original wrapping should be discarded. Avoid homemade treats unless cooked by someone you know well.
  • Consider trading in excess candy at a candy trade-in event. They are offered at various locations around town, including Saturday at the Meriter Pediatric Clinic at 345 West Washington Ave.

For homeowners:

  • Make sure driveway, walkway and yard are free of obstructions.
  • Keep jack-o’-lanterns and other luminaries away from the walkway to prevent fires. Consider using non-flame candles.
  • Consider offering non-candy treats such as stickers, temporary tattoos, plastic rings, raisins, fruit rolls or crackers.
  • Keep pets away — they can get frightened and inadvertently bite or jump on trick-or-treaters.

For drivers:

  • Slow down in residential neighborhoods and school zones. Remember that popular trick-or-treating hours are from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
  • Be especially alert and take extra time to look for children at intersections, on medians and on curbs. Children are excited and may move in unpredictable ways.
  • Slowly and carefully enter and exit driveways and alleys.
  • Reduce any distractions inside your car, such as talking on the phone or eating, so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
  • Drive with your headlights on, so you can spot children from greater distances. Remember that costumes can limit children’s visibility and they may not be able to see your vehicle.

Have a safe and fun Halloween!


This column provides general health information and is not specific advice intended for any particular individual(s). It is not a professional medical opinion or a diagnosis. Always consult your personal health care provider about your concerns. No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Johnson to people submitting questions.

Read more: http://host.madison.com/news/local/ask/dr-johnson/dr-dana-johnson-halloween-safety/article_65e7cf0e-a8e7-53dd-a130-354dec56fbfe.html#ixzz2jDLDe0wt

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