Experts Offer 'Lucky 13' Tips for Safe and Healthy Halloween

SATURDAY Oct. 29, 2011 -- From decorative contact lenses to face paint, experts warn that Halloween costumes may result in a wide array of potentially serious health issues from falls to allergic reactions.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission provided the following "lucky 13" guidelines on how kids and their parents can enjoy a fun and safe Halloween:

  • Choose flame-resistant costumes. Store-bought costumes should read "flame-resistant" on the label. Homemade costumes should be made out of flame-resistant fabrics, like polyester or nylon.
  • Glow in the dark. Wear bright colors or costumes with reflectors to ensure being visible in the dark. Also, to avoid tripping, make sure costumes aren't too long.
  • Avoid masks. Masks can make it more difficult to see properly. Replace them with makeup and hats.
  • Test makeup. Put a small amount of costume makeup on one arm about two days before dressing up. Do not use the makeup if it triggers an allergic reaction, which may include a rash, swelling or other sign of irritation.
  • Check makeup ingredients. Avoid using any makeup containing additives that are not FDA-approved.
  • Be cautious about decorative contact lenses. Avoid wearing any costume lenses unless you have seen an eye-care professional and been properly fitted and instructed on their use.

Halloween safety measures apply to more than just costumes, the experts noted. When trick-or-treating, kids and parents should keep the following tips on candy in mind:

  • Candy should not be eaten until it has been inspected at home.
  • Trick-or-treaters should fill up on a healthy meal or snack before they start knocking on doors so they won't be tempted to eat candy before it has been checked.
  • Don't let kids accept or eat any candy or food items that are not in unopened store wrappers.
  • Very young children should not receive or be allowed to keep any choking hazards, such as gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys.
  • Inspect all candy to make sure no one has tampered with it. Some signs to look for include discoloration, pinholes and small tears in wrappers. Toss anything that looks suspicious.

Anyone attending a Halloween party or event, the experts add, should also consider taking the following precautions:

  • Avoid drinking any juice than hasn't been pasteurized, such as packaged juice products that may have been made on site. Typically, the juice found in grocery stores in the freezer or refrigerator sections is pasteurized as well as any beverages on the shelf in boxes, bottles or cans.
  • Before bobbing for apples, wash the produce thoroughly to reduce exposure to dirt and bacteria.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics also offers Halloween safety tips.

Posted: October 2011


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