Kids Stuff: Happy — and safe — Halloween!

Wel­come to Kids Stuff. For many young chil­dren, when they no­tice the leaves are turn­ing pretty fall col­ors and the days are be­com­ing short­er, and they feel these brisker morn­ings, they know au­tumn has ar­rived, and that means Hal­loween fun events are not too far be­hind. However, with all fun fest­iv­it­ies, one must al­ways re­mem­ber the phrase safety first.

When or­gan­iz­ing this column, I came across safety tip sug­ges­tions from the fol­low­ing: Amer­ic­an Academy of Pe­di­at­rics (ht­tp://­vocacy/re­leases/octhal­loween.cfm); the U.S. Con­sumer Product Safety Com­mis­sion (ht­tp://­low.html); the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (ht­tp://­ily/hal­loween); and the Na­tion­al Fire Pro­tec­tion As­so­ci­ation (ht­tp://­Release­De­tails.asp?     cat­egory­id=488&itemId=53669)


• First and fore­most, nev­er al­low chil­dren to trick-or-treat alone. They should al­ways be in view of a trus­ted adult. However, if your older teen­ager de­cides he/she is go­ing alone, plan and re­view the route that is ac­cept­able to you, the adult. Agree on a spe­cif­ic time when he/she should re­turn home. 

• Plan your cos­tume with safety in mind. Make sure they are bright and re­flect­ive so drivers see you eas­ily. Maybe go the ex­tra mile and buy ad­di­tion­al re­flect­ive tape for your cos­tume and trick-or-treat bags for great­er vis­ib­il­ity. All cos­tumes should be made from fire-re­tard­ant ma­ter­i­als.

• If you’re wear­ing a mask in lieu of a non-tox­ic face paint, make sure it fits well, so your vis­ion is not  ob­struc­ted and your air­way is not re­stric­ted.

• Make sure shoes fit well; oth­er­wise, your foot can fall out of the shoe and you could suf­fer an in­jury.

• Hold a flash­light or a large, thick glow stick while trick-or-treat­ing to help you see, and to help oth­ers see you.

• Re­main on well-lighted streets and al­ways use the side­walk. If no side­walk is avail­able, walk at the far edge of the road­way fa­cing traffic. 

• Only cross at corners. Use es­tab­lished cross­walks wherever pos­sible. Nev­er cross between parked cars. Look both ways be­fore cross­ing the street. Look left, right and left again to be sure no cars are ap­proach­ing be­fore you start cross­ing the street. Don’t as­sume the mo­tor­ists will stop at the cross­walk just be­cause you have the right of way. Also, just be­cause one car stops, doesn’t mean oth­ers will! 

• Nev­er cut across yards or use al­leys. 

• Only go to homes with a porch light on and nev­er enter a home or car for a treat. 

• WALK, don’t run, from house to house.

• If you and your child carry a cell phone for quick com­mu­nic­a­tion and safety, keep it for emer­gen­cies only, be­cause you do not want to be­come so in­volved with a call or text that you are not pay­ing at­ten­tion to lights, signs, drivers or your sur­round­ings. Par­ents, if you get sep­ar­ated from your kids, do they know their home phone num­ber or your cell num­ber? Do they know how to dial 911?

• Par­ents, grand­par­ents and guard­i­ans should ex­am­ine all treats for chok­ing haz­ards and tam­per­ing be­fore you or your young­sters con­sume them. Chok­ing haz­ards can in­clude gum, pea­nuts, hard can­dies, or small toys as treats. In the past, some fa­cil­it­ies provided free X-rays of candy bags.

• Nev­er al­low chil­dren to cut a pump­kin, be­cause ser­i­ous in­jur­ies can oc­cur. In­stead al­low them to draw a face on the out­side of the pump­kin, then par­ents should do the cut­ting.

• Use flash­lights as al­tern­at­ives to candles or torch lights when dec­or­at­ing or on door­steps, walk­ways, land­ings and yards. They are much safer for trick-or-treat­ers, whose cos­tumes may brush against the light­ing. If you de­cide to use lighted pump­kins, keep them away from cur­tains and oth­er flam­mable ob­jects, place them on a sturdy ob­ject, and do not leave lighted pump­kins un­at­ten­ded. In ad­di­tion, dried flowers, corn­stalks and crepe pa­per are highly flam­mable. Keep these and oth­er dec­or­a­tions well away from all open flames and heat sources, in­clud­ing light bulbs and heat­ers.


The Amer­ic­an So­ci­ety for the Pre­ven­tion of Cruelty to An­im­als (ht­tp://­­­px) provides won­der­ful in­form­a­tion on how to take lov­ing care of your pets. Here are some Hal­loween safety tips they sug­ges­ted:

• No tricks, no treats for dogs or cats. Chocol­ate in all forms — es­pe­cially dark or bak­ing chocol­ate — can be very dan­ger­ous for dogs and cats. Can­dies con­tain­ing the ar­ti­fi­cial sweeten­er xy­l­it­ol can also cause prob­lems. If you sus­pect your pet has in­ges­ted something tox­ic, call your veter­in­ari­an or the AS­PCA An­im­al Pois­on Con­trol Cen­ter at 1-888-426-4435.

• Pop­u­lar Hal­loween plants such as pump­kins and dec­or­at­ive corn are con­sidered to be re­l­at­ively non-tox­ic, but they can pro­duce stom­ach up­set in pets who nibble on them. 

• Wires and cords from elec­tric lights and oth­er dec­or­a­tions should be kept out of reach of your pets. If they are chewed, your pet might suf­fer cuts or burns, or re­ceive a pos­sibly life-threat­en­ing elec­tric­al shock. 

• A carved pump­kin cer­tainly is fest­ive, but ex­er­cise cau­tion if you choose to add a candle. Pets can eas­ily knock a lighted pump­kin over and cause a fire. Curi­ous kit­tens es­pe­cially run the risk of get­ting burned or singed by candle flames. 

• Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don’t put your dog or cat in a cos­tume UN­LESS you know he or she loves it, be­cause wear­ing a cos­tume may cause  un­due stress. 

• If you do dress up your pet, make sure the cos­tume isn’t an­noy­ing or un­safe. It should not con­strict the an­im­al’s move­ment or hear­ing, or im­pede his abil­ity to breathe, bark or meow. Also, be sure to try on cos­tumes be­fore the big night. If your pet seems dis­tressed, al­ler­gic or shows ab­nor­mal be­ha­vi­or, con­sider let­ting him go without a cos­tume. 

• Take a closer look at your pet’s cos­tume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or eas­ily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fit­ting out­fits can get twis­ted on ex­tern­al ob­jects or your pet, lead­ing to in­jury. 

• All but the most so­cial dogs and cats should be kept in a sep­ar­ate room away from the front door dur­ing peak trick-or-treat­ing hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stress­ful for pets. 

• When open­ing the door for trick-or-treat­ers, take care that your cat or dog doesn’t dart out­side. 

• IDs, please! Al­ways make sure your dog or cat has prop­er iden­ti­fic­a­tion. 

Colum­nist Wil­li­am Feld­man can be con­tac­ted by e-mail at wmkid­

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