- - Wednesday, October 26, 2016

All Hallows’ Day, commonly referred to as Halloween, is an exciting time of the year where children become enraptured and communities “dress-up” to greet the estimated 40 million plus trick-or-treaters. According to one source, it is the 3rd largest party day now behind New Year’s Eve and the Super Bowl.

And, you may be surprised to hear that the Halloween business has grown 100% in the United States in the past 10 years. On average, we spend $70 per person (not per family) on the festivity’s decorations, costumes, candies, and trinkets.

Yes, Halloween brings excitement for our children; but for parents, trick-or-treating can be a little tricky. However, if everybody remembers the tricks and treats of playing it safe — Halloween can be fun for parents and children, alike.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know: About Halloween Safety

Pedestrian Safety

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than other days of the year. Some safety tips include:

When crossing the street, do so at crosswalks or signal lights. And, make sure to look left, then right, then left again, before crossing, and continue to look as you cross.

Walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe

Carry a flashlight and wear reflective tape on costumes or bags

Pay attention: Watch for cars that are turning or backing-up and avoid texting while walking

Dental Health

Enjoying our Halloween “booty” and good oral health do not have to be mutually exclusive. In their MouthHealthy Halloween Campaign, The American Dental Association makes several suggestions to decrease the risk of tooth decay from sweets:

Eat candy and sweets during, or soon after, meals when saliva production increases. Saliva helps to neutralize acids produced by bacteria as well as rinse away food particles.

Avoid hard and sticky candies that increase the length of time that sugar and acid are exposed to our teeth

Increase water intake to wash away food particles

And make sure to brush twice a day and floss daily, throughout the year!

Moderating Candy (Checking and Consumption)

Trick-or-treaters and their parents should be aware that there is always a possibility that someone may tamper with Halloween candy. Before eating a piece, treats should be examined by a responsible adult in a place with a bright light. Checking Halloween candy includes looking for evidence of tampering and throwing away treats that appear suspicious or have been handmade by strangers. Anything that does not look right, should be safely disposed of. If you find tainted candy or treats, contact the police. In addition, caution your children not to accept any beverages offered to them while trick and treating.

Halloween is an opportunity for children—and adults—to stockpile tons and tons of candy that can last for days and even weeks. Some tips to decrease the sugar and calorie consumption include:

Avoid trick-or-treating on an empty stomach—being hungry with a bag full of candy is too tempting

Hand out toys—and not to worry, kids will not be disappointed! Yale University researchers found that children are just as likely to choose a small toy as they are candy when offered both on Halloween.

Opt to hand out non-sugary and wholesome foods such as granola bars, canned or dried fruit, popcorn, pretzels, and apples

And if you are hosting a party, provide a variety of fruit, veggies, and cheeses. There are plenty of creative Halloween recipes from carrot fingers to “boo”-nana pops.

Limit candy consumption in the days that follow to one, two, or three treats a day

Costumes

The origin of Halloween, and costumes, is based on the Celtic holiday, Samhain, a day where the ghosts of the dead were able to mingle with the living. People would don masks and dress up to confuse the spirits. Today, costumes are fun and festive and can range from scary to comical to fantasy to representing pop culture and political candidates. When choosing costumes, consider:

Bright and reflective garments to increase visibility when trick-or-treating. Alternatively, add reflective tape to the costumes and/or bags.

Avoiding falls by wearing comfortable shoes and costumes that are not too long

Testing makeup on a small area of skin to avoid skin reactions

Utilize flame-resistant items, including accessories

Safety

Talking to our children about safety is always a wise thing to do, and especially so on Halloween. For older children and young teens who are trick-or-treating without an adult, consider planning and reviewing the route they will be using. Also, remind them to:

Never accept rides from strangers or visit poorly lit homes

Walk in groups

Stay in touch and abide by a curfew

Keep a cell phone readily accessible

Carry a flashlight

Fire

Jack o’lanterns and other decorations with flames help to create a Halloween atmosphere. However, The U.S. Fire Administration estimates that for each year from 2011 to 2013, there are 10,300 fires reported to fire departments, 125 injuries, 25 deaths, and $83 million in property loss over a 3-day period around Halloween. Some safety tips to avoid fires include:

Keeping any candles or flames away from doorsteps, walkways, landings, curtains, small children, and pets.

Placing candles or flames on sturdy tables

Never leaving open flames unattended

In a world of constant deadlines, it’s nice that Halloween celebrations throughout our nation still strive to remain centered around fun and family as a shared community event. Between dressing up in costumes, collecting and eating candy, and spending time with family, friends and neighbors, it creates a lasting, fun-filled “treat” for all.

While keeping a keen eye on these safety and healthy tips, let’s all include planning to savor the time and enjoy the cider; carve a pumpkin (or two); and turn-on our porch lights for special time with family, friends and neighbors in the richness and wonder of this memorable, community party.

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