Experts: Have fun on Halloween, but be safe

 Did you know that about 41 million kids are expected to go trick-or-treating and that they are twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year?

According to the National Safety Council, one in five of these deaths occurs at a road crossing or intersection, often because the driver doesn’t see the pedestrian.

Here’s a comprehensive list from the American Academy of Pediatrics about keeping kids safe on the streets while out trick-or-treating.  

• Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.

• Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.

• Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly so they don’t slide over eyes. Makeup should be tested ahead of time on a small patch of skin to make sure there are no unpleasant surprises on the big day.

• When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories, look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.

• If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or long.

A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.

• Do not use decorative contact lenses.

While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as “one size fits all,” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” using decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. This can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.

• Review with children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they ever have an emergency or become lost.

• Steer clear of registered sex offenders’ homes by downloading the Florida Department of Law Enforcement app.

It also allows users to search wanted persons, get stolen vehicle information, submit anonymous tips about criminal activity and see active missing persons alerts.

FDLE recommends teaching your child their address and telephone number and how to call 911 in an emergency ahead of Halloween. And caution them not to give out personal information to strangers, and not to go into strangers’ houses or vehicles.

The final bit of Halloween advice comes from Bruce Ruck, managing director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School’s emergency medicine department.

• Before allowing children to eat candy, inspect it for tampering. Signs of tampering may include opened wrappers, wrapping that doesn’t match the candy inside, labels with misspelled words or candy that looks or smells strange.

• Watch for marijuana edibles masquerading as candy. Be aware of how similar these products can look like store-bought candy – with similar names and packaging, but whose spellings or wrapper color might be slightly different. Ecstasy pills or other drugs can also look like colorful candy.

These products may contain high concentrations of drugs, causing the potential for severe effects in adults or children.

• Be alert to food allergies. One in 13 children under the age of 18 in the United States is allergic to foods such as peanuts, wheat, milk, tree nuts or eggs. Many children can have severe reactions. If your child is allergic, monitor the candy and other treats they take.

• Use caution with face paint and makeup. Face products may cause skin irritation.

Parents should purchase items from reputable sources with a recognizable or name brand or check the ingredients for known allergens.

Apply the product to a small area first. Some cosmetics and paints, especially those that are imported or found at bargain stores, have been found to contain lead. Anyone who uses face paint should wash their hands with soap and water before eating.

• Do not wear non-prescription costume contact lenses. These products could contain chlorine, iron and other dangerous chemicals and are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Only buy decorative contact lenses from retailers that require a prescription and sell FDA-approved products.

• Be careful with alcohol: Many at-home Halloween parties serve alcoholic beverages. It is important to realize the alcohol content in beer, wine, liquor and cocktails/punches affects children and pets differently than it does adults; even ingesting a small amount could lead to serious health complications or death.

A person who seems very drunk or has passed out may be showing early signs of alcohol poisoning and be in real danger. Immediate medical help is essential. “Sleeping it off” is never a safe option. Know the critical signs of alcohol poisoning.

• Watch your pets. Chocolate, cocoa, candy and other products containing xylitol, an artificial sweetener, are poisonous to pets and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures or even death.