Some simple precautions will safeguard young trick-or-treaters, experts say.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following safety tips:
• Choose costumes that are bright and reflective and short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame. Add reflective tape or striping to costumes and treat bags to make children more visible.
• Remember that masks can hinder or block eyesight. Non-toxic makeup and decorative hats are safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over children's eyes.
• Buy only costumes, wigs and accessories with a label clearly indicating they are flame-resistant.
• If a sword, cane or stick is part of a child's costume, make sure it's not sharp or too long.
• Provide children and escorts with flashlights with fresh batteries.
• Teach children how to call 911 or their local emergency number.
• Have a parent or responsible adult accompany young children when they're trick-or-treating.
• If your older children are trick-or-treating alone, review their route and agree on a specific time when they'll return home.
• Trick-or-treat only at homes with a porch light on. Never enter a home or car for a treat.
• Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk. If there's no sidewalk, walk at the far edge of the road facing traffic. Never cut across yards or use alleys. Only cross streets at recognized crosswalks. Never cross between parked cars. Never assume the right of way -- it can be difficult for motorists to see trick-or-treaters.
• When your children return home, sort and check their treats. Throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
• Allow children to draw faces on pumpkins, but parents should do the carving.
• Never leave candle-lit pumpkins unattended. Place them on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects. Votive candles are safest for candle-lit pumpkins.
• Homeowners, remove tripping hazards from the front yard and porch, such as toys, bikes, lawn decorations and garden hoses. Sweep wet leaves from sidewalks and steps, make sure outdoor lights are working, and keep pets under control.