Check Halloween candy and costumes

Friday, October 31, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:14 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 13, 2008

While the day and night may be filled with fun activities for the children, there are some Halloween hazards that may be masked as well.

According to William Womack, medical director of MU Health Care’s emergency services department, parents and children need to understand that while Halloween is a fun holiday for everyone, it creates some safety concerns.

“Halloween involves more than costumes and candy. It can mean injury and pain for those that don’t take the necessary precautions,” Womack said.

Last year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission released safety tips for trick-or-treaters, and Womack encourages everyone to review them. The group’s safety suggestions can help ensure that all little ghosts and goblins will have a bag of goodies to show for their fun and will not be haunted by unnecessary injuries.

There is a wide array of injuries that people can receive during Halloween festivities.

Some injuries may involve:

1) eye abrasions from sharp objects attached to masks or costumes,

2) skin irritations or rashes from decorative face paints or creams, or

3) burns from flammable costumes ignited by open flames.

To avoid burns, look for costumes that are labeled as “flame-resistant.” Although this label does not mean these items won’t catch fire, it does indicate that the items will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.

The costumes should also be visible during dusk and darkness. Trimming a costume with reflective tape is one solution if the trick-or-treater already has his or her heart set on a low-visibility costume.

Other injuries can result from ingesting tainted candy. Since children see all candy as a positive treat, they should wait to eat their goodies until an adult has thoroughly examined them.

“There are many ways that candy can be tampered with, however, children do not know the difference between good and bad candy. It’s all good to them,” Womack said.

The following are some tips that may have already been given by mom, but Womack says now is a good time to take her sage advice:

1) Children should go to houses where they or the adult they are with know the occupants.

2) Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes. Mother’s high heels are not a good idea for safe walking.

3) Children should wear masks that fit securely and have eyeholes large enough to allow full vision.

4) Children should go out in groups. With safety in numbers, more people will be able to watch out for each individual in the group.

As an adult, it is sometimes easy to forget the anxiety youngsters feel on Halloween.

To all motorists that will be driving that night, drive carefully. Excited children may forget some of the safety rules and dart in front of your car.

Halloween should be a fun and exciting time for everyone who plans and participates in the holiday.

The only injuries that staff at MU Health Care hope to see this year are the ones painted on the costumes of creative trick-or-treaters.

This story was written by Monica Moore, Media relations coordinator for MU Health Care.

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