Be safe while trick-or-treating

Published 9:30 pm Thursday, October 29, 2009

When thousands of ghosts and goblins hit the streets Saturday night, parents will want to make sure they are as safe as possible.

The best way to do that is to remind them of the old rules that have always applied, said Lisa Purkett-Harrell, health and safety director for the Suffolk chapter of the American Red Cross.

“Make sure the children are in well-lit areas,” Purkett-Harrell said. “Don’t go to any house without a porch light. By all means, do not go in anybody’s house. And before they eat their candies, have an adult check the candies out.”

Although the standby rules still apply, this year there is an extra precaution typically not needed in October — flu prevention.

“We don’t want anyone to go out trick-or-treating and come home sick,” Purkett-Harrell said.

Children are reminded to keep their hands away from their face. If a child is sick, they must be kept at home for their own safety as well as the health of the neighborhood, Purkett-Harrell said.

People giving out candy also can take measures to keep children from getting the flu. Instead of letting children pick from the bowl of candy, hand it out yourself — that way, only one person’s hands will be in the bowl throughout the night, rather than dozens of children’s hands. This also keeps the children from overindulging.

Parents also are reminded of the more common rules for trick-or-treaters:

Use flame-resistant costumes.

Plan your route and make sure adults know where children are going. A parent or responsible adult should accompany young children as they make their way around the neighborhood.

Make sure the trick-or-treaters have a flashlight. Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags. Have everyone wear light-colored clothing.

Visit only the homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door — never go inside.

Instead of masks that can cover your eyes and make it hard to see, use face makeup.

Walk only on the sidewalks, not in the street. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the edge of the roadway. Look both ways before crossing the street, and cross only at the corner. Don’t cut across yards or use alleys. Don’t cross between parked cars. Be cautious around strange animals, especially dogs.

Also, people passing out treats should remember these rules:

If you are welcoming ghosts and goblins, make sure your outdoor lights are on.

Sweep leaves from your sidewalks and steps.

Clear your porch or front yard of any obstacles that a child could trip over.

Restrain your pets.

Use a glow stick instead of a candle in your jack-o-lantern to avoid a fire hazard.