Halloween is expected to be cool and clear in the Lower Hudson Valley.
There’s a difference between fun scary and real scary. To help families tell the difference, Westchester County has released a Halloween safety checklist.
Based on that list, Halloween sounds like a danger-filled cavalcade of bumped knees, fire and car accidents.
Here are five things to be afraid of for real this Halloween:
Among the warnings provided to parents is a suggestion to review the principle of “stop-drop-roll,” should children’s clothes catch fire.
Houses with Halloween decorations are encouraged to keep candles and jack-o’-lanterns away from landings and doorsteps where costumes could brush against the flame. Battery-powered lanterns or chemical lightsticks are safer than candles.
Inside, keep candles and jack-o’-lanterns away from curtains, decorations and other combustibles that could be ignited.
Costumes, masks, beards and wigs should be of flame resistant fabrics such as nylon or polyester. Look for a label reading “Flame Resistant.” Flame resistant fabrics will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.
To minimize the risk of contact with candles and other fire sources, avoid costumes made with flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts.
Badly designed costumes
Costumes themselves are apparently dangerous things.
Costumes should be well-fitted and not drag on the ground to guard against trips and falls. Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes. Oversized high heels are not a good idea. Tie hats and scarves securely to prevent them from slipping over eyes and obstructing vision.
Think twice before using simulated knives, guns or swords. If such props must be used, be certain they do not appear authentic and that they are made of soft, flexible material. Swords, knives and similar costume accessories should be made of soft, flexible material.
Avoid cheap costume toy jewelry, as it may include lead, particularly if it is made in China, according to Westchester County.
The first warning is obvious: Children should not go inside the homes or apartments of strangers.
But beyond that, families are warned to allow children to trick-or-treat only at houses with outside lights on.
Trick-or-treaters should stay within their own neighborhoods. Younger children should be accompanied by an adult and older children should have a curfew.
Openly discuss with children appropriate and inappropriate behavior at Halloween time.
Children should carry change or cell phone to call home. Instruct them in the proper use of 911.
Many of the old stories about razor blades or weed-laced candy may be apocryphal, but parents should probably stay safe, rather than being sorry.
Warn children not to eat treats before an adult has examined them for evidence of tampering.
Carefully examine any toy or novelty items received by trick-or-treaters under three years of age. Do not allow young children to have any items that are small enough to present a choking hazard or that have small parts or components that could separate during use and present a choking hazard.
The only candy or snacks that should be kept are those which have been commercially packaged and those which have not been opened in any way.
Getting hit by a car
This is always a danger in highly populated areas, but perhaps moreso on Halloween.
Costumes should be light, bright and clearly visible to motorists.
For greater visibility during dusk and darkness, decorate or trim costumes with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car’s headlights. Bags or sacks should be light colored or decorated with reflective tape. This tape is usually available in hardware, bicycle and sporting goods stores.
If your child wears a mask, make sure it fits securely, provides adequate ventilation, and has eye holes large enough to allow full vision. Eye holes in face masks should be big enough for a child to see out of in all directions.
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