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Drew: Staying safe on Halloween

BIRMINGHAM TIMES — This article will review safety tips good for all ages to practice – young, older, and in between.

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By Samuetta Hill Drew

Halloween is a holiday enjoyed by both adults and children alike.  They both dress up in costumes, eat sweets, carve pumpkins and have loads of fun.  Therefore, this article will review safety tips good for all ages to practice – young, older, and in between. Let’s dive right in before you go outside to walk the neighborhood or drive to your favorite party to trick-or-treat!

Samuetta Hill Drew

[/media-credit] Samuetta Hill Drew

Selecting the right costume is an important first step. It is best to use face paint versus a plastic mask. Masks may obstruct your vision while worn causing unnecessary trips and falls.  Make sure you use natural or non-toxic beauty products to create your Halloween face.  Consider making your own batch of face paint instead of store-bought options which can contain unwanted parabens, fragrances, dyes, petroleum-based ingredients, and even lead.  It is best to conduct a trial test a couple of days before Halloween on your inner arm. This way you can wear it for a couple of days and see if you have any type of skin reaction before smearing it all over your face.

Avoid costumes with excess fabric such as caps or elongated sleeves. Oversize clothes can easily brush up against an open candle flame or a jack-o-lantern. They can also potentially result in unwanted trips and falls.

The usage of plastic props for small children’s costumes is discouraged. Young children are notorious for putting things in their mouths and the plastic may contain some form of toxins.

Brightly colored costumes are recommended so drivers can see trick-or-treaters from a distance. Remember Halloween occurs when it starts getting darker a little sooner. Another safety recommendation for both children and adults is to add additional decoration using reflective tape or stickers.

Younger children like glow sticks or glow wristbands which can be purchased at any Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Wal-Mart, Family Dollar or any other convenient and affordable retail store. These should be used particularly by the younger children and flashlights for older ones. The flashlight will help with night time visibility also.

Any added safety measure like brightly colored costumes, additional reflective tape, glow sticks and/or flashlights can be a life-saving safety measure, especially since children are twice as likely to be struck by a car and killed on Halloween. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, there are more children hit by a car on Halloween than any other day of the year.  Drivers should be very cautious when backing out of their driveways or when accelerating from a parked vehicle position during peak trick-or-treating times (5:30 – 9:30).

Since Halloween is also an adult holiday, there is a higher number of drunken drivers on the road, coupled with an increased number of people walking on foot, which unfortunately makes for a deadly combination. From 2007 to 2011, 23 percent of pedestrian fatalities on Halloween night involved a drunken driver.  Where most younger children are home around nine when many adults are leaving Halloween parties or events, many older children may still be out unsupervised. Therefore, make sure you review with them the safety rules about looking both ways before crossing the street, walking on the sidewalks versus in the street, etc. Practicing all the safety walking rules is good for everyone, regardless of age. Note, calling a cab or Uber is a great safety tip for adults who are drinking or have a designated driver who is not drinking.

Plan your route a couple of days before.  Always supervise children 13 years and under. Older children should go in a group only – NEVER ALONE. Accompany small children all the way to the door and hold their hands. Some adult costumes by the homeowner can frighten younger children as well as some outside porch/lawn decorations. Make sure they only go to homes where the porch lights are on.  Having the younger children take a short nap before you go out trick-or-treating may be wise.

Lastly, the number one rule to Keeping an Eye on Safety is to check all candy before it is eaten by anyone! Check for tampering of the wrappers, spoilage, allergic ingredients, homemade treats, choking hazards and/or missing wrappers. In some neighborhoods, they are using brightly colored Teal (similar to turquoise) pumpkins to denote homes with alternative candy for children who suffer from food allergies.

Using these Halloween Safety Tips may help you sidestep potential holiday hazards and help ensure a fun-filled enjoyable evening.

This article originally appeared in the Birmingham Times.

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