Staying Safe is the Trick to Making Halloween a Treat

It seems like only last year that I shared – or should I say scared – some Halloween safety tips into parents.  I thought this year I'd unmask a few safety tips directly with children, so that their Halloween is far from frightening when it comes to staying safe.  So kids, if you want more than a ghost of a chance of being safe on Halloween, listen up:

First make sure you can see through your costumes and be seen.  That means avoid masks or oversize hats if possible which can reduce your ability to see and use face paints instead.  Put reflective tape or a glow in the dark necklace on your costumes so others can see you moving through the neighborhood at night.  Avoid swords, and other props that can get in your way and make sure you are wearing shoes that fit.  Make sure your costumes don't drag on the ground. 

If you are over the age of 10 and going out without your parents, take at least two friends with you.  Never trick or treat alone.  Carry a flashlight, a watch and a cell phone if possible.  Work with your parents to plan your route in advance and how long you will be out, especially if they are not going with you. 

Stay on the sidewalk and if there is no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the road facing traffic.  Walk, don’t run.

Approach only houses that are lit, never go inside a house, be very cautious of strangers and strange pets, and don't forget to say thanks when you do get a treat.

Speaking of treats, remember to eat a great dinner before going out to fill you up, so you don't start eating your treats until you and your parents have had a chance to inspect everything and make sure it’s safe to eat.  Get rid of anything that looks unwrapped or tampered with.  Remember when in doubt, throw it out.

Finally if you are concerned about how healthy or non-healthy eating all that candy can be, consider selling it back to your parents in exchange for a special outing or activity you would love to do with them.  Your parents can give you back the candy on special occasions in the weeks ahead.

Hopefully safety tricks like this will not allow you to make any "boo-boos" and make Halloween a treat for you, your friends, and family to enjoy. 

Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. You can also catch "First with Kids" weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and WPTZ Channel 5, or visit the First with Kids video archives at http://www.FletcherAllen.org/firstwithkids