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How to do Halloween safely

Holiday: Kids and adults alike can benefit from safety tips this Halloween

Posted: October 14, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 14, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Young trick-or-treaters should have their routes mapped out by parents beforehand and never approach a stranger’s home.

 

Halloween might be the most fun holiday of the year, but it can also be the most dangerous. Between trick-or-treating, complicated costumes and fire hazards, it’s always important to think safety first.

“We’re still considered one of the safer communities, but bad things can still happen in a good city. There are still people out there that can sabotage our trick-or-treaters,” said Regina Yost, a deputy at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station in Valencia.

When Yost gives tours at the station this time of year, she often gives Halloween safety tips to guests, as well.
These include:
* If you have young children, only trick-or-treat when it’s light outside.
* Make sure costumes are well lit and made of flame-retardant material.
* Costumes should be easy for children to walk in to avoid tripping hazards.
* Use retro-reflective tape on costumes and trick-or-treat bags/containers
* Carry flashlights to see and be seen easily
* Trick-or-treat in groups or with parents or older siblings.

“It’s always a good idea for parents to plan a trick-or-treat route ahead of time,” Yost said. “Kids should be reminded never to cross a street in between cars or mid-block; it should always be at the corner, and they should walk facing traffic on streets without curbs. Lastly, kids should never eat the candy they’ve collected until their parents have a chance to sort it out at home.”

It is advised that parents throw away any candy or food that is not wrapped by the candy company and, if there are any suspicious treats, to notify the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.

For the ultimate in safe trick-or-treating, Yost suggested attending Halloween events, such as the Sheriff’s Station’s Annual Haunted Jailhouse.

This year’s event takes place on Sunday, Oct. 30, and is just $1 to enter, with proceeds benefiting the Santa Clarita Valley Boys & Girls Club.

“Some parents just don’t like the whole trick-or-treat thing, so this is really fun to do,” she said.

Fire safety is another aspect to consider on Halloween as Matt Levesque, an inspector for the Los Angeles County Fire Department, noted.

“Nowadays, there’s a lot of companies that provide special battery-operated candles for jack-o’-lanterns, which are obviously a safer choice than candles,” Levesque said. “Still, some people will use candles; that practice hasn’t gone away.”

If using candles, Levesque recommended keeping the jack-’o-lantern outside and, when lighting the candle, make sure there is no loose clothing present that might catch fire.

Like Yost, Levesque suggested carrying a flashlight or using glow sticks as a part of the Halloween costume.

“It’s a really inexpensive way to be seen easily,” he said. “And, as a matter of safety, it’s better to travel in groups to homes where you know the people.”

More Halloween safety tips are provided online by the National Safety Council and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department:

Motorists
Motorists should be especially alert on Halloween:
* Watch for children darting out from between parked cars.
* Watch for children walking on roadways, medians and curbs.
* Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.
* At twilight and later in the evening, watch for children in dark clothing.
 
Children
Children should understand and follow these rules:
* Do not enter home or apartment without adult supervision.
* Walk, do not run, from house to house. Do not cross yards and lawns where unseen objects or the uneven terrain can present tripping hazards.
* Walk on sidewalks, not in the street.
* Do not enter dark yards or fenced areas as there may be dogs or other household hazards.
* Pin a slip of paper with the child’s name, address and phone number inside a pocket in case the youngster gets separated from the group.

Face design
* When buying special Halloween makeup, check for packages containing ingredients that are labeled “Made in the U.S., “Approved-color additives,” “laboratory-tested,” “Meets Federal Standards for Cosmetics,” or “Nontoxic.” Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application.
* If masks are worn, they should have nose and mouth openings and large eye holes.

Contact lenses
The FDA advises never to wear contact lenses that are not procured from a licensed eye care professional.
* Be sure to get an eye exam and a valid prescription that includes the brand and lens dimensions.
* Buy the lenses from an eye-care professional or from a vendor who requires that you provide prescription information for the lenses.
* Follow directions for cleaning, disinfecting and wearing the lenses, and visit your eye care professional for follow-up eye exams.

Accessories
* Knives, swords and other costume accessories should be made from cardboard or flexible materials. Do not allow children to carry sharp objects.
* Bags or sacks carried by youngsters should be light-colored or trimmed with retro-reflective tape if children are allowed out after dark.
* Carrying flashlights will help children to see better and be seen more clearly.

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