Halloween tips to ensure safety of children

By Drs. Sally Robinson and Keith Bly

It’s almost Halloween again. Before sending your little ones out in search of candy, consider the following to ensure that he or she has a trick-free Halloween:

• Don’t buy a costume unless it’s labeled flame retardant.

• Make sure that wigs and beards don’t cover your child’s eyes, nose or mouths.

• Encourage your child to choose a costume without a mask. Masks can make it difficult for your child to breathe. Use face paint instead.

• Suggest a light-colored costume for your child, or add glow-in-the dark tape on the front and back of a dark costume.

• Avoid oversized or high-heeled shoes that can cause your child to trip and fall.

• Make sure that accessories, such as swords or wands, are flexible.

• Put a name tag with your phone number on or inside your child’s costume.

If your child will be trick or treating:

• Accompany them, but make sure they know your home phone number, cellphone number and how to call 911 in case they get lost.

• If your older child is trick-or-treating, make sure he or she knows to stay with a group of friends, never go to houses that don’t have the porch lights on, never go inside anyone’s house, cross the street at crosswalks and never assume that vehicles will stop.

• Kids should carry flashlights with fresh batteries.

• Limit trick-or-treating to your neighborhood or to homes of people you or your children know.

• Check your community for safe Halloween parties rather than sending your child out trick-or-treating.

• When your child returns from trick-or-treating, check all of the treats to make sure they’re sealed and that there are no signs of tampering. Throw away any candy that is not in a sealed package.

• Don’t allow young children to have hard candy, gum or other items they might choke on.

• Provide a filling meal before your children go out to trick-or-treat so they won’t eat as many treats.

Make sure that children who trick-or-treat at your house will be safe also.

Remove anything that might obstruct your walkway, provide a well-lit outside entrance to your home and put pets away.

Consider purchasing Halloween items other than candy, such as erasers, stickers, crayons, pencils, sugar-free gum or dried fruits.

If you carve a pumpkin, try using a glow stick instead of a candle.

Sally Robinson is a clinical professor of pediatrics at UTMB Children’s Hospital, and Keith Bly is an associate professor of pediatrics and director of the UTMB Pediatric Urgent Care Clinics. This column isn’t intended to replace the advice of your child’s physician.