With so many children walking around in the dark on Halloween, families should clean up their yards -- rakes, bikes, garden hoses and the like should be put away, and outside lights should be turned on so kids won't fall. Drivers, too, should slow down and keep a careful eye on the road to avoid excitable children who might run into traffic without looking.
"Kids get excited, and adults do as well, and we want them all to enjoy the evening and enjoy it safely," Csukas said.
Costumes should also be assembled with an eye toward safety, Csukas said. Masks should have big eye holes to give kids as much peripheral vision as possible, and costumes should be short enough to allow walking without tripping. Shoes shouldn't be so big and unwieldy that kids can't walk properly.
Most store-bought costumes are made of flame-resistant material. But homemade costumes aren't necessarily flame-proof, so special care should be taken around pumpkins lit with candles. And stay away from sharp objects -- any make-believe swords, pitchforks, knives and the like should be made of soft material.
Then there are the treats themselves. Parents should check the candy bags when their kids get home. Parents whose children have food allergies should remove candies that could trigger reactions in their kids. And parents with younger children should look for small items that could cause choking if swallowed. Also, be cautious about homemade treats. Commercially wrapped candy bars that show no signs of tampering are safer.
Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis and president of the American Dietetic Association, said that when children have a bag full of Halloween treats, their natural inclination may be to devour as much as they can as quickly as possible. In order to control consumption, parents need to do some pre-planning, she said.
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