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Four quick tips for a safe and happy Halloween

Halloween is an exciting time of year for kids of all ages, from ghoulish jack-o'-lanterns and fanciful costumes to spooky celebrations. The OHSU Doernbecher Tom Sargent Safety Center and the Oregon Poison Center at OHSU would like to wish everyone a Happy Halloween and suggest a few tips for a hazard-free holiday:

1) Pick a safe costume

A mask, cape or toy prop may seem like the ideal accessory; however, these items may hinder safety. Long capes or gowns present tripping hazards while masks can alter visibility, especially at night. Consider using nontoxic face paint and ensure costumes are hemmed to an appropriate length before heading out to parties or trick-or-treating routes. Flat shoes with anti-slip treading are recommended.

Light-up outfits also may pose an unexpected hazard. “While appealing, these outfits may contain small button batteries that can be extremely dangerous if swallowed,” said Ben Hoffman, M.D., medical director of the OHSU Doernbecher Tom Sargent Safety Center. “Any battery-powered children’s toys and costumes that do not have a battery-pack secured with screws should be avoided at all times, not just on Halloween.”

Wearing bright colors and reflectors and carrying a flashlight are good alternatives and will help make even the smallest goblin visible at night.

2) Plan the route in advance and stick together

Before embarking on a trick-or-treating route, adults and kids should identify and agree upon a familiar and well-lit route with plenty of sidewalks, paths and cross-walks. While children younger than 12 should be accompanied by an adult, it is important to ensure that all trick-or-treaters know their address or phone number – or wear an ID bracelet or tag – in case they become separated from a group or chaperone.

3) Light the night, but don’t get burned

A jack-o'-lantern isn’t complete without the glow of light. Battery-powered candles are an ideal replacement for a lit candle, which can cause extensive damage or injury if overturned. If real candles are used, be sure they are placed a safe distance from walkways, doorsteps or dry leaves.

When inviting trick-or-treaters or other visitors to the door, be sure the entrance and walkways are well-lit and clear of any wires, decorations or debris.

4) Inspect all treats

Children should not eat any treats until they are inspected by an adult. This is especially important because many candies, baked goods, over-the-counter medicines and edible marijuana products can be hard to differentiate. All commercially available cannabis edibles are marked with a small red label that states the contents of the product. Treats not commercially wrapped, or those with loose or open wrappers, should be discarded.

If someone accidentally ingests a toxic substance, immediately call the Oregon Poison Center at OHSU by dialing 1-800-222-1222.


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