The Times West Virginian

October 31, 2013

Take steps to keep children safe during trick-or-treat

Times West Virginian

— “Trick or treat!”

It’s something people are likely to hear countless times this evening as youngsters around the region prepare to descend upon the homes in their neighborhoods to gather candy as part of annual trick-or-treating festivities.

In fact, an estimated 120 million children and adults dress up in costumes for Halloween each year, and 72 percent of adults say they hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, making today one of the most popular holidays of the year.

Of course, on a night that’s supposed to be full of fun and treats, there is always the chance of a few tricks sneaking in. And while the spirit of the holiday can certainly be thought of as a spooky one, there are things parents should do to make sure their children stay safe while trick-or-treating.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends the following tips to help ensure your Halloween is a safe one:

• Children shouldn’t snack while they’re trick-or-treating. Urge kids to wait until they get home and parents have had a chance to inspect the contents of their “goody bags.”

• To help prevent children from snacking, give them a light meal or snack before they head out — don’t send them out on an empty stomach.

• Tell children not to accept — and especially not to eat — anything that isn’t commercially wrapped.

• Parents of very young children should remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys.

• Inspect commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.

But the safety precautions don’t end with the candy.

In fact, parents should take time before trick-or-treating begins to make sure their youngsters have safe costumes. That means nothing that could easily catch on fire; no sharp plastic objects such as swords or daggers; and making sure reflective tape is added so kids are easily seen by motorists in the area.

Other safety precautions kids should keep in mind include looking both ways before crossing the street, carrying a flashlight and only trick-or-treating at homes where a porch light is on.

These safety tips may sound like common sense, but trick-or-treating can be an exciting time for little ones, making it easy for good decisions and smart practices to slip their mind.

We hope parents take time this evening to remind their youngsters to be extra vigilant this Halloween.