Extension Service: Thriller ways to stay safe this Halloween
By Tanner Hood
AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Halloween is an exciting time for parents and children alike. Costumes and candy are family favorites, but it is important that everyone is aware of the risks to health and safety.
“Halloween can be a lot of fun, but everyone needs to be safe out there,” said Tera Glenn, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System human nutrition, diet and health regional agent.
Before the witching hour begins, check out the following tips from Glenn on keeping your family safe this Halloween.
Beware of Scary Candy
Candy is one of the reasons so many enjoy Halloween. However, there are some inherent risks to candy for children and adults that everyone needs to keep an eye on. Allergies can develop at any stage of life but are more likely at a young age. Parents should always check what their children are eating to make sure it does not contain any of their known allergens.
“Make sure to go through the candy together and pull out everything they may have an allergic reaction to,” Glenn said. “It is always great to do this with your kids because it is a time for them to learn what to look for too.”
For homeowners that will have trick or treaters visit them, you can have small toys and trinkets on hand to prepare for children who are allergic to candy. Some examples of these are spider rings, vampire teeth, bouncy balls, small slinkies and stickers. These are typically inexpensive and can be purchased at places such as variety stores.
In addition to allergies, children and parents need to also be aware of an important and potentially dangerous situation: candy that has been tampered with. Recently, the United States has seen a spike in the number of fentanyl and other drug-related cases. Parents should not be worried or frightened but should practice caution when trick-or-treating in unknown areas.
“Parents should check the candy before they allow their children to consume it,” Glenn said. “Be on the lookout for signs the candy has been tampered with and throw it away if you’re unsure.”
In addition to candy, there are some other important safety tips that parents and children should remember when trick or treating.
• Visit known areas. When possible, only take your children to trick or treat at known houses and communities. Visiting friends, family and known neighbors can lessen the risk of receiving unwanted or dangerous candies and toys.
• Be safe when out and about. With so many people traveling around town on Halloween, always pay attention to traffic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that trick or treaters watch out for cars, wear or use reflective gear, walk with a group and carry a flash light.
• Scare away colds and the flu. Even little witches and goblins needs to protect themselves from cold and flu season. The CDC recommends that people wash their hands frequently. Also, everyone six months and older should get a flu vaccine each year.
• Throw a monster mash at home. If you are concerned about venturing out to trick or treat, another idea is to throw a Halloween party at home. This allows children to spend time with friends and keeps them in a safe environment.
Halloween is an exciting time and can be fun for everyone. For more information regarding general health and safety, visit the Home & Family section of the Alabama Extension website, www.aces.edu. You can also contact an Extension agent at your county’s Extension office.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System takes the expertise of Auburn University and Alabama A&M University to the people. Our educators in all 67 counties are community partners — bringing practical ways to better our homes, farms, people and the world around us. Our research extends knowledge and improves lives.