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Posted on Oct 30,2017

Joseph Perno, M.D.

Halloween is right around the corner. Joseph Perno, M.D., medical staff affairs officer at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital, gives parents some tips to make it a safe night for children.

Before the kids go out, be safe in your choice of costume.  What are some safety tips for parents when choosing a costume?

Make sure the costume is fire proof.  If the costume involves wearing a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough so that they do not restrict peripheral vision.  If the costume has a prop like a sword, make sure the tip is smooth and flexible so that it will not cause an injury if fallen on.  Make sure the costume is not too long so that the child may trip.  Also, make sure the costume is not too dark; consider using some reflective tape to make sure the children can be seen at night. Lastly, don’t forget comfortable shoes as the kids will be likely walking a good distance.

Once the kids head out, what sort of things should we keep in mind?

All young children should be accompanied by an adult and better still travel in a group; make sure you communicate where the group is going so the kids are not moving in all different directions. Stay on well-lit streets and walk on sidewalks. If there are not sidewalks, walk over to the side of the street.  Do not cut across yards or alleys. Only approach houses with lights on; avoid homes that are dark. Remind children not to talk to strangers and never enter a house of someone they don’t know or get in a car with a stranger.

For older children going out alone, discuss acceptable streets or areas for trick or treating.  Establish a time for their return. Consider giving them a cell phone to communicate with you if needed.

If you are out driving from dusk through the early evening, keep a close eye out for those ghosts and gremlins running through the neighborhood.  Just because you see a child doesn’t mean they see you or in their excitement they will stop. Be prepared for the unexpected.

After the trick or treating is done, what should parents do before the candy frenzy begins?

Although tampering is rare, parents should examine all candy to make sure that it is unopened and safe for the child. Obviously, if your child has any food allergies, care must be taken to check all the ingredients on each piece of candy. Do not allow your child to eat any candy that is not commercially wrapped.

For your sake and the child’s try not to let them have a meal of just candy.  Before trick or treating, feed them a meal so that they don’t snack on uninspected candy or gorge themselves on candy afterward.

Although you might not be the most popular house on the street, the American Academy of Pediatrics urges people to consider handing out coloring books, pens or pencils. These are a healthy, safe alternative to candy, just not as exciting to the kids.

Lastly, just because the kids collected bags full of candy doesn’t mean they need to eat it all. Consider rationing the candy over the days following Halloween or even donating the candy.

This information was shared on WTVT-TV’s Doc on Call segment, which is aimed at helping parents learn more about children’s health issues. The segment airs each Monday morning on Good Day Tampa Bay.


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