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BODY WATCH : Rules of the Game

October 31, 1995|SHARI ROAN | TIMES HEALTH WRITER

Halloween is a blast, but it's also one of the most dangerous nights of the year for young children.

Here, health and safety experts offer tips for a fun Halloween.

Trick-or-Treaters

* Carry a flashlight.

* Walk, don't run.

* Make sure costumes don't drag on the ground.

* Avoid wearing masks while walking from house to house.

* Shoes should fit (even if they don't go with your costume).

* Don't cut across yards or driveways.

* Carry only flexible knives, swords or other props.

* Stay on the sidewalk.

* If there isn't a sidewalk, walk on the left side of the road facing traffic.

* Wear clothing with reflective markings or tape attached for visibility.

* Obey traffic signals.

* Cross only at corners.

* Stay in familiar neighborhoods.

* Approach only houses that are lit.

Parents

* Make your child eat dinner before setting out.

* Ideally, children of any age should be accompanied by an adult (even if Mom or Dad has to maintain a 50-yard distance).

* If older children are allowed to trick or treat unaccompanied, they should have orders for where they can go and how long to stay out.

* Children should carry quarters so they can call home if need be.

* If you buy a costume, look for one made of flame-retardant material.

* If you're not familiar with the homes you visit, consider having goodies X-rayed at hospitals offering the service free of charge.

* Although incidents of tampering are very rare, tell children to bring all treats home before consuming anything.

* Look at the wrapping carefully and toss out anything that looks suspect.

Homeowners

* Make sure your yard is clear of such things as ladders, hoses, dog leashes and flower pots that can trip the young ones.

* Battery powered jack-o'-lantern candles are preferable to a real flame.

* If you do use candles, place the pumpkin well away from where trick-or-treaters will be walking or standing.

* Make sure paper or cloth yard decorations won't be blown into a flaming candle.

* Healthy food alternatives for trick-or-treaters include packages of low-fat crackers with cheese or peanut butter filling, single-serve boxes of cereal, packaged fruit rolls, mini boxes of raisins and single-serve packets of low-fat popcorn that can be microwaved later.

* Non-food treats: plastic rings, pencils, stickers, erasers, coins.

Drivers

* Go slow, slow, slow all evening. (Adult Halloween partyers should have a designated driver.)

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