halloween.jpgEach Halloween, many children look forward to dressing up as their favorite character or scary monster and hitting the streets to trick-or-treat. But it is important for parents to take some basic precautions. The Miami-Dade County Injury Prevention Coalition at Jackson Health System offers suggestions.

Make sure your children understand the importance of walking on the sidewalk while trick-or-treating. At night, motorists have more difficulty seeing pedestrians, especially children.  That is why it is

important to pick costumes that are bright or reflective, or carry a flashlight or lighted glow stick, which are visible to motorists. Do not use candles, as they are fire hazards.

To prevent falls, avoid costumes that drag and shoes with high heels. Make sure costumes and wigs are flame-resistant, that masks allow for comfortable breathing, and use non-toxic makeup. Use only costume accessories that are made of soft material, not hard plastic, which can cause injuries.

All children under 13 should be accompanied by an adult. If your kids are old enough to trick-or-treat without an adult, make sure they carry a cell phone in case they need to call home for any reason. No one should trick-or-treat alone. There is safety in numbers. Kids, no matter what age, need to know how to get in touch with you, so teach them to memorize your number and learn how to dial 9-1-1 in case of an emergency.  For younger children, secure emergency contact information on their Halloween costumes. Include your name, home phone number, address and cell phone number.

When deciding where to go trick-or-treating, take into consideration the area or neighborhood. Choose well-lit streets where other families will be enjoying the evening.  Visit only homes or

apartments in familiar neighborhoods that have the porch or front  lights on. Not only does a well-lit home provide a clue about whether someone is at home to greet children, but it also prevents you and your child from ending up in an unpleasant situation. Remind your child to walk – not run – from house to house, and to look both ways (“left –right –left”) before crossing the street. Make sure children know never to enter a stranger’s home or car to get treats. Children should accept treats only at the door, no exceptions.

To be sure that children have received safe treats, first, tell them that you must check their treats before they eat them.  Inspect all candy carefully. If the wrapper is already opened, throw that piece in the garbage. If anything looks suspicious, tampered with or old, don’t take a chance — toss it out. While poisoning is a concern, choking on hard candy is another major injury risk. If you have younger children, remove all hard round candies and jawbreakers from their bags as these can be choking hazards.

For more Halloween safety or general safety tips, visit jhsmiami.org/injuryprevention or call Cindy Magnole, injury prevention coordinator, at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Care Center, 305-585-7971. Magnole is also chair of the Miami-Dade County Injury Prevention Coalition, which provides safety education throughout the county.