Keeping kids safe & healthy on Halloween

October 27, 2005

BOSTON--Halloween is an exciting time for kids, and we can all help to make sure that children have a safe and fun holiday with the following tips from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing group at Harvard Medical School.

Candy

Kids will be less likely to overload on candy if they eat something before they go out. And they'll be more likely to do that if you make it fun. One idea: Host a make-your-own-jack-o'-lantern pizza party. Give each child a miniature pizza and allow him or her to create a masterpiece. You can use onions, peppers, or olives for eyes, and mushrooms for a toothy grin.

Before Halloween, decide--with your children--on a specific number of candies they can eat per day, and how long that should go on. After that cut-off date, donate the excess candy or put it away and take it out for special treats throughout the year. Set a treat calorie limit for yourself as well. Of course, make sure your child knows not to eat any treats until you've checked them to make sure the safety seal hasn't been tampered with.

Costumes
Costumes are an essential part of Halloween fun, but hazardous situations can arise if a costume is made from the wrong materials or does not fit properly.

"Every Halloween we see children brought to our emergency department with problems related to costumes. Masks that are ill-fitting interfere with vision, and outfits that are baggy or extend beyond ankles lead to trips and falls," says Harvard Health Letter advisory board member Dr. John T. Nagurney, an attending physician in emergency services at Massachusetts General Hospital and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Children who will be trick-or-treating after dusk should have reflective tape on their costumes and treat bags, and should carry flashlights with fresh batteries.

Jack-o'-lanterns
Carving jack-o'-lanterns is a Halloween tradition that the whole family can participate in, though small children should never do the actual carving. Let them draw a face with markers, and then you can do the cutting. Under parents' supervision, children ages 5 to 10 can carve with pumpkin cutters that have safety bars.

Home safety
Keep your own home safe for visiting trick-or-treaters by removing anything that a child could trip over and by replacing any burned-out outdoor light bulbs.
-end-
Harvard Health Publications
http://www.health.harvard.edu
Harvard Health Publications is the publishing branch of Harvard Medical School. Publications include monthly consumer health newsletters focusing on general health, women's health, men's health, mental health, and cardiovascular health; more than 40 special health reports; and 15 books. HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL
http://hms.harvard.edu/
Harvard Medical School has more than 6,000 full-time faculty working in eight academic departments based at the School's Boston quadrangle or in one of 47 academic departments at 18 Harvard teaching hospitals and research institutes. Those Harvard hospitals and research institutions include Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance, the CBR Institute for Biomedical Research, Children's Hospital Boston, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Forsyth Institute, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Joslin Diabetes Center, Judge Baker Children's Center, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Mental Health Center, McLean Hospital, Mount Auburn Hospital, Schepens Eye Research Institute, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, and VA Boston Healthcare System.

Harvard Medical School

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