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Stay safe this Halloween

Holiday: Trick-or-treaters can have fun and stay safe with these easy-to-follow tips from local expe

Posted: October 21, 2010 9:58 p.m.
Updated: October 23, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Trick-or-treating is an American Halloween tradition each year. To ensure children’s safety during the festivities, there are tips to follow, including supervision by an adult or teen guardian while going from door-to-door, wearing reflective strips or glow sticks on or around costumes, and staying on well-lit streets in familiar neighborhoods.

Costumes, check. Bucket or bag for trick-or-treating, check. Pumpkin for carving, check.

It’s almost time for Halloween, and with the holiday comes a lot of preparations.

What some revelers may forget, however, is how to stay safe and still have fun.

The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station has a plethora of tips on its website ( and at the top of the list is parental or guardian supervision, according to Lt. Brenda Cambra.

“Children should be watched carefully. Traffic collisions, with children darting in and out of traffic, are a major concern on Halloween,” Cambra said. “Limit trick-or-treating to well-lit streets and always have a responsible teen or adult accompany trick-or-treaters.”

Motorists and kids
Motorists can play a part in safe festivities by watching for children darting from between parked cars and walking on roadways, medians and curbs.

Drivers should always enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully. When twilight comes, watch for children in dark clothing.

Parents should instruct their children and guardian as to what route the trick-or-treaters plan to follow and when the return time will be. They should stop only at houses or apartment buildings that are well-lit and never enter a stranger’s home. No candy should be eaten until parents have had a chance to inspect all items.

Pinning a slip of paper with the child’s name, address and phone number inside a pocket can be helpful in case a youngster gets separated from his or her group.

Children need to know that they should walk, not run, from house-to-house and avoid yards and lawns where unseen objects can present a tripping hazard.

Walking on the sidewalk, not in the street, and walking on the left side of the road  are the best options to stay safe while trick-or-treating.

Residents should also consider attending local organized Halloween functions, such as those provided by shopping centers or the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station’s Haunted Jailhouse, which can offer fun, safe ways to enjoy the holiday (see below).

The big C
When it comes to candy, Cambra suggested to discard unwrapped items such as fruit or even homemade items that may be covered in plastic wrap.

“Unless you know exactly where it comes from, the item should be thrown away. It’s unsafe and unsanitary,” she said. “If anything your child receives while trick-or-treating seems suspicious, notify the Sheriff’s Station.”

To avoid on-the-spot noshing, parents are advised to give their children an early meal before heading out to trick-or-treat.

After the candy loot is brought home, Lisa Bryant, clinical dietitian at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, advised parents to dole it out sparingly.

“Decide together as a family what is reasonable, maybe three to five pieces a day,” Bryant said. “In general, always try to provide a healthy yogurt, a piece of fruit or vegetables with dip, before an unhealthy snack.”

Bryant suggested adults  pass out fun toys or trinkets such as decorate pencils, decks of cards, bouncy balls or party favors as alternatives to candy.

Healthy snacks, such as packs or raisins, fruit leathers, bags of pretzels, peanuts or other nuts offer another alternative.
“There are a ton of things people can use for Halloween instead of candy,” Bryant said.

Costumes and makeup
At a Chorus Line Dance Wear & Costumes in Valencia, manager Jana Einaudi and her staff advise clients young and old on how to stay safe while looking cool or spooky on Halloween.

“Usually, we try not to have costumes that are too long. If the costume is hitting the floor, it should be hemmed. You don’t want your child to trip while going from house-to-house,” Einaudi said.

As far as accessories are concerned, knives and swords should be made from cardboard or flexible materials; children should not be allowed to carry sharp objects. Bags or sacks, a must for any trick-or-treater, should be light in color or trimmed with retro-reflective tape.

Masks can present visibility problems, as most of them cut the eyeholes too small, according to Einaudi.

That’s why she will often enlarge the eyehole at the store or show parents how to do so themselves.

“Good visibility is really important,” she said. “For visibility’s sake, makeup is a lot better than a mask.”

A Chorus Line carries professional-grade makeup, which is ideal for clients who have sensitive skin.

“We do have some parents that have kids with especially sensitive skin, so we tell them to put a base of cold cream on the face, then wipe it off, to add a protective layer that doesn’t allow makeup to soak into the pores,” Einaudi said. “It comes off more easily, too.”

The Sheriff’s Station website recommends looking for makeup containing ingredients that are labeled “made with U.S.-approved color additives,” “laboratory tested,” “nontoxic,” and/or “meets federal standards for cosmetics.”

Most costumes today are flame-retardant, Einaudi said, but can be safely enhanced for visibility with flexible plastic glow sticks worn about the wrists or neck area.

All about pumpkins
One of the most fun traditions of Halloween can be pumpkin carving. Nancy Roatcap, of Nancy’s Ranch in Valencia, is currently offering pumpkins of every shape and size. She also has a lot of experience with carving.

“I would say one of the most important things is to use one of those plastic pumpkin tools that you can buy just about anywhere this time of year instead of a knife,” Roatcap said.

“Buy one of the fatter tools, as the skinny tools can break very easily,” she cautioned.

Roatcap also recommended using a battery-powered tea light instead of a flame candle, which can smoke inside the pumpkin or worse, catch on any flammable objects should the pumpkin be knocked over.

If you do decide to go with a traditional candle, make sure to put a hole on top of the pumpkin for gas to escape, Roatcap said.

Lastly, for those who enjoy eating toasted seeds or using pumpkin flesh in a recipe, both practices are perfectly fine, according to Roatcap.

“Pumpkin seeds are safe to eat and easy to fix. Just look for recipes on the Internet,” she said. “I suggest buying a pie pumpkin if you want to eat any of the flesh. It’s made for eating.”


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