Westchester County offers these tips for a safe, but fun-filled, Halloween.
One way to keep children safe is to use flashlights as alternatives to candles or torch lights when decorating walkways and yards. They are much safer for trick-or-treaters, whose costumes may brush against the lighting. If your children are going to Halloween parties at others’ homes, have them look for ways out of the home and plan how they would get out in an emergency.
The National Fire Prevention Association publishes fire prevention safety fliers each year that are available for downloading.
- Keep candles and jack-o'-lanterns away from landings and doorsteps where costumes could brush against the flame. Consider battery-powered lanterns or chemical lightsticks instead of candles.
- Remove obstacles from lawns, steps and porches when expecting trick-or-treaters.
- Indoors, keep candles and jack-o'-lanterns away from curtains, decorations and other combustibles that could be ignited.
- Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory. Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard damaged sets.
- Don't overload extension cords.
- Costumes, masks, beards and wigs should be of flame resistant fabrics such as nylon or polyester and look for the label "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.
- 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.
- Try using face paint on your child instead of a mask.
- Children should carry flashlights to see and be seen.
- 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.
- Trick-or-treaters should stay within their own neighborhoods.
- Younger children should be accompanied by an adult.
- 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.
- Review the principle of “Stop-Drop-Roll,” should their clothes catch fire.
- Children should trick-or-treat only to houses with the outside lights on and to apartment buildings that are brightly lit.
- You should set a time for older children to return home.
- Children should not go inside the homes or apartments of strangers.
- 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.
- Encourage your child to eat dinner before going out.