Dr. Dana Johnson: How to keep children safe on Halloween

Originally published in The Wisconsin State Journal on October 25, 2012. Dr. Johnson is a pediatrician at Meriter McKee.

Dear Dr. Johnson: Halloween is coming up quickly. Any thoughts or tips to keep my children safe?

Dear Reader: Halloween is a holiday when children can pretend to be their favorite superhero or other character. Adults also can join in the fun with their own costumes.

However, as adults we have to remember to keep safety first. On average, twice as many kids are killed while walking on Halloween compared to other days of the year. Whether a parent, homeowner or car driver on Halloween, we all play a part in making trick-or-treating fun and safe.

For parents

• Pick a safe costume for your children. Costumes should be flame-resistant, comfortable and fit appropriately, including shoes, so children won’t trip.

• Only use props that are soft and flexible so they won’t cause injury if fallen on.

• Face painting is preferred to masks, since masks can obstruct vision. If using a mask, make sure there are large eye holes.

• Add reflective tape to costumes and treat bags, and have your children carry glowsticks and flashlights.

• Young children should be with an adult and older children should be with at least two other children. They should have a planned route and time to be home.

For children

• Only go to homes with lights on.

• Do not enter the home.

• Do not take candy from people in vehicles.

• Follow traffic safety: cross at corners, walk on sidewalks or the left side of the road facing traffic when a sidewalk is not available, and don’t cut across yards.

• Eat dinner before trick-or-treating to prevent over-consumption of candy.

• Parents should inspect candy before consumption. Any candy not in original wrapping should be discarded and homemade treats should be avoided.

For homeowners

• Make sure driveways, walkways and yards are free of obstructions such as plants, hoses, dog leashes and flower pots.

• Keep jack-o-lanterns and other candle luminaries away from the path to prevent fires. Consider using non-flame candles.

• Offer non-candy treats such as glow bracelets, stickers, temporary tattoos, raisins or crackers.

• Keep pets away — they can become frightened and inadvertently bite or jump on trick-or-treaters.

For drivers

• Slow down in residential neighborhoods.

• Be especially alert and look for children at intersections, on medians and at curbs. Children are excited on Halloween 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 your surroundings.

• Drive with 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.

I hope you all have a fun and safe time trick-or-treating. Happy 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-how-to-keep-children-safe-on-halloween/article_aaff48b0-1dec-11e2-9f40-0019bb2963f4.html#ixzz2AJnIqOY2

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