Ochsner Baton Rouge Shares Helpful Hints to Have a Hazard-Free Halloween

When we think of Halloween, we picture children laughing in colorful costumes, jack-o'-lanterns glowing in house windows, and buckets brimming with candy and treats. Experts warn, however, that this fun-filled night can pose safety hazards.

An alternative is to throw a Halloween party and invite kids, rather than have them out on the street. If your kids will be going door-to-door trick or treating, however, some precautions can make the evening safe and enjoyable for everyone.

Costumes

Safety begins at home, with the child's costume. Every part of the costume--masks, beards, wigs and clothing--should be made of flame-resistant material, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). In the event that a child bumps up against a burning candle, such materials will quickly extinguish themselves. When purchasing a store-bought costume, look for a label that says "Flame Resistant." Choose costumes without big, loose sleeves, skirts, or pants legs to lessen the chance of coming into contact with an open flame.

If the costume is not brightly colored, and therefore not easily visible at night, add a strip of reflective tape, which is sold at hardware and sporting goods stores.

Around the home

To make your home safe and inviting for trick-or-treaters, leave your front lights on so they may have a well-lit path to your door. (A well-lit home also reduces your chances of being "tricked" by holiday vandals!) Remove items such as planters, hoses, and lawn decorations, so your visitors don't trip on them. Keep pets inside, out of harm's way.

Place candle-lit jack-o'-lanterns far away from the door, so tiny goblins won't accidentally brush against them. Keep your indoor jack-o'-lanterns away from curtains and any decorations that could catch fire. The CPSC recommends against using candle-lit Halloween luminaries along your walkway; instead, place flashlights inside the bags.

On the streets

Young children should trick-or-treat with an adult or a responsible, older child. Instruct children to stay on the sidewalk and out of the roadway. Remind them to walk, not run, and to go to houses only where they know the people inside. As much as possible, trick or treat in your own neighborhood or one that is familiar to you and your children. Avoid unfamiliar houses and lawns, where ornaments, furniture, and even tree stumps can cause them to trip. At no time should they enter a house, unless they are with a grown-up.

While driving on Halloween, remember that the night will be filled with excited children who may forget their parents' warnings about street safety. Drive extra carefully, keeping an eye out for youngsters walking between driveways and cars, or crossing in the middle of the block rather than at the corners. Adult Halloween partiers should have a designated driver, of course.

If you are not walking with your children, make sure you know who is with them--and set a time for them to be home. Let them carry a cell phone in case of emergency.

Make sure your children are aware of the established time limitations for trick or treating.

Remind your children to be respectful of each other, their neighbors, and their neighbors’ property.

Instruct your kids not to eat any of their goodies until a grown-up has had a chance to carefully examine them.

Make sure the kids eat a healthy meal before trick-or-treating, so they'll be less likely to over-indulge on candy.

Tips for costume safety

Follow these costume safety tips from the CPSC:

  • Purchase or make costumes that are light and bright enough to be clearly visible to motorists.
  • For greater visibility during dusk and darkness, decorate, or trim costumes with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car's headlights. Bags or sacks should also be light colored or decorated with reflective tape.
  • Costumes should be short enough to prevent children from tripping and falling.
  • Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes. Mother's high heels are not a good idea for safe walking.
  • Hats and scarves should be tied securely to prevent them from slipping over children's eyes.
  • Apply a natural mask of cosmetics rather than have a child wear a loose-fitting mask that might restrict breathing or obscure vision. If a mask is used, however, make sure it fits securely and has eyeholes large enough to allow full vision.

“For extra light at night, glow sticks may be worn around the wrists and ankles,” said Lois Gesn, MD, pediatrician at Ochsner Health Center – O’Neal and Ochsner Health Center – Central. “Avoid accessories that need to be carried in your child’s hands, so they can have both hands free.”

Safety tips for pumpkins

Follow these pumpkin safety tips from the CDC:

  • Carve pumpkins on stable, flat surfaces with good lighting.
  • Have children draw a face on the outside of the pumpkin; parents should do the cutting.
  • Place lighted pumpkins away from curtains and other flammable objects.
  • Don't leave lighted pumpkins unattended.

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About Ochsner Baton Rouge services:

Ochsner Baton Rouge services include 13 local health centers and Ochsner Medical Center – Baton Rouge, a full service acute care hospital located at I-12 and O’Neal Lane. Ochsner employs more than 1,000 locally, including nearly 100 physicians. Ochsner Baton Rouge is a part of Ochsner Health System, southeast Louisiana’s largest non-profit, academic, multi-specialty, healthcare delivery system. Ochsner has been named the Consumer Choice for Healthcare in New Orleans for 17 consecutive years and is the only Louisiana hospital nationally recognized by U.S. News and World Report as a “Best Hospital” across nine specialty categories. Ochsner employs more than 15,000 employees, over 900 physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties and conducts over 400 clinical research trials annually. Ochsner Health System is proud to be a tobacco-free environment. For more information, please visit ochsner.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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