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Press Release

DHHS Offers Halloween Tips to Keep Children Healthy and Safe
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Division of Public Health Services
Publish Date:
October 28, 2013

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) today offered tips for parents to enjoy Halloween festivities while helping to keep children healthy and safe. Many communities will be celebrating over the next few days. Some communities hold trick-or-treating during the daylight hours, while others do so during the evening. Fatality records from across the country from the past 21 years show that Halloween is the deadliest day of the year for child pedestrian accidents, so it is very important to talk to children and parents about how to stay safe.

“Trick-or-treating is a time-honored tradition for Halloween but we wouldn’t want anyone’s fun to be spoiled,” said Dr. José Montero, DHHS Public Health Director. “Parents should take a few extra minutes to make sure their little ones will be safe this holiday.”

In order to protect children’s health, DHHS offers the following health tips to parents regarding treats:

  • Children shouldn’t snack while they’re out trick-or-treating. They should wait until they get home and parents have had a chance to inspect the goodies. Give children a snack or light meal before they go–don't send them out on an empty stomach.
  • Tell children not to accept, and especially not to eat, anything that isn’t commercially wrapped.
  • When children bring their treats home, discard any home-made candy or baked goods. Parents of young children should also remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, or small toys.
  • Inspect commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.
  • If juice or cider is served to children at Halloween parties, make sure it is pasteurized or otherwise treated to destroy harmful bacteria. Juice or cider that has not been treated or pasteurized will say so on the label.

Additionally, DHHS offers the following safety tips for Halloween:

  • Children should see and be seen in their costumes. Halloween is the deadliest day of the year for child pedestrian accidents. The twilight hours between 6:00-7:00 PM are particularly dangerous.
  • Purchase or make costumes that are lightly colored and bright enough to be clearly visible to motorists.
  • For greater visibility during dusk and darkness, decorate or trim costumes with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car’s headlights. Bags or sacks should also be light colored or decorated with reflective tape. Reflective tape is usually available in hardware, bicycle, and sporting goods stores.
  • To easily see and be seen, parents or children should also carry flashlights.
  • Costumes should be short enough to prevent children from tripping and falling.
  • Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes. High heels are not good for safe walking.
  • Hats and scarves should be tied securely to prevent them from slipping over children’s eyes.
  • Apply a natural mask of cosmetics rather than have a child wear a loose-fitting mask that might restrict breathing or obscure vision. If a mask is used, however, make sure it fits securely and has eyeholes large enough to allow full vision.
  • When purchasing a costume, masks, beards, and wigs, look for the words “flame resistant” on the label. Although this label does not mean these items won't catch fire, it does indicate that they will resist burning and should extinguish quickly once removed from the ignition source. To minimize the risk of contact with candles or other sources of ignition, avoid costumes made with flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts.
  • Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be of soft and flexible material.
  • When using makeup, follow all directions carefully.
  • Don’t decorate your face with things that aren’t intended for your skin.
  • Like soap, some things are OK on your skin, but not in your eyes. Some face paint or other makeup may say on the label that it is not for use near the eyes. Believe this, even if the label has a picture of people wearing it near their eyes. Be careful to avoid getting makeup in your eyes.
  • Even products intended for use near your eyes can sometimes irritate your skin if you use too much.
  • Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. Obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. These can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent problems.
  • If you’re decorating your skin with something you’ve never used before, you might try a dab of it on your arm for a couple of days to check for an allergic reaction BEFORE you put it on your face. This is an especially smart thing to do if you tend to have allergies.
  • Teach children how to call 9-1-1 if they have an emergency or become lost.

For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov/family/halloween/.

 
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New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
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