5 safety tricks for making Halloween a treat

Halloween might feature fake blood and phony fractures, but it can also be a time for real injuries — or worse.

To keep your family, visiting children, adult party guests and pets safe this year, divide your safety planning into five categories to make sure you don’t miss a potentially dangerous area of your scary celebrations.

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1. Costumes
Remember that you, your child or your pooch will might have to wear that cute princess or zombie outfit for hours. Avoid flammable materials. Try out costumes a day or so in advance to see if they bind, chafe or restrict movement. Use hypoallergenic makeup and keep it away from the eyes, ears and nose. Make sure kids have a wide range of vision if they’ll be outside while wearing a mask. Accessories such as swords, wands and light sabers should be soft and have no sharp edges. Keep ankles and feet free from fabric to avoid tripping. Don’t dress kids in all dark items if they’ll be near traffic, and apply reflective tape to bags and clothing.

2. Decorations
Candles and electrical cords can turn Halloween into a real nightmare on Elm street. Kids might be tempted to play with candles and pets won’t tell you they’ve just knocked one over in the next room with their tail. Make sure no one will trip over cords and that they aren’t placed where animals can chew them. Lawn decorations are often unsupervised, so make sure kids who play with them won’t be harmed if the items fall over or if tots become tangled in them. If you plan on answering the door with a shout, scream or other scare, make sure visitors won’t fall or slip backwards onto a hard surface, down stairs or onto an item behind them.

3. Food safety
Halloween starts and ends with treats. Your three concerns when planning party menus and passing out goodies should be food allergies, healthy choices and great taste. Keep an eye on ingredients, and consider avoiding the following ingredients when planning food for All Hallow’s Eve:

•Soy
•Lactose
•Gluten
•Sugar
•Nuts
•High-fructose corn syrup
•Additives
•Preservatives
•Store-bought drinks (including most juices)

4. Beggar's night
Halloween is one of the deadliest nights of the year for pedestrians, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. With U.S. households owning 70 to 80 million dogs (according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), animal attacks are also a big concern. A little planning can go a long way to keeping adults and kids safe. In addition to keeping costumes safe, parents should provide kids with flashlights, emergency phone numbers and any medications they might need. Teach kids to stay away from dogs and cats, no matter how friendly they might seem. Use a defined route for trick-or-treating and make sure kids only cross the street at designated crosswalks, even when they’re with adults.

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5. Pet safety
Furry friends are also at risk on Halloween night, and you don’t want them starring in your own version of “Pet Sematary.” Chocolate should be a major concern for pet owners — the theobromine in chocolate is toxic and can be fatal to dogs. The darker the chocolate and smaller the dog, the more danger there is. Dogs will chew through electrical cords, so keep lighted decorations safe for pets by taping down cords or hiding them under rugs. Avoid a retractable leash if you’ll be trick-or-treating with a pooch. With lots of kids, unidentifiable aliens and ghouls, dogs won’t be paying attention to oncoming cars, and if you’re not ready, you won’t be able to keep them from running into traffic.

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