Tips for safe trick-or-treating

The Mayo Clinic offers these tips for safe trick-or-treating:

• The brighter the better. Whether you buy a costume or make one yourself, choose bright colors and flame-retardant materials. If your child will be trick-or-treating outdoors after dark, attach reflective tape to the costume.

• Size it right. If it's chilly outdoors, make sure your child's costume is loose enough for warm clothing to be worn underneath - but not long enough to cause tripping. Avoid oversized shoes and high heels.

• Skip the masks. A mask can obstruct your child's vision, especially if it slips out of place. Use kid-friendly makeup instead.

• Limit accessories. Pointed props - such as wands, swords and knives - may pose safety hazards.

• Get in on the fun. Accompany trick-or-treaters younger than age 12. Pin a piece of paper with your child's name, address and phone number inside your child's pocket in case you get separated. Encourage older kids to trick-or-treat with a group of friends, parents or older siblings. Make sure someone carries a flashlight with fresh batteries.

• Stay close to home. Don't allow your child to go door to door in an unfamiliar neighborhood.

• Set ground rules. If your child will trick-or-treat without you, establish a route and set a curfew. You may want to give your child a cell phone for the evening should he or she need to contact you.

• Inspect the treats. Don't let your child snack while he or she is trick-or-treating. Inspect the treats first - and discard anything that's not sealed, has torn packaging or looks questionable. If you have young children, weed out gum, peanuts, hard candies and other choking hazards.

• Ration the loot.

If your child collects gobs of goodies, dole out a few pieces at a time and save the rest. You may even ask your child if he or she would like to swap some - or all - of the candy for a special toy, book or outing.

• Plan a party. Consider planning a trick-or-treat party with a couple of neighbors instead of house-to-house door knocking. Decorate the garages, have a costume contest, and plan games and prizes.

This can be safer and healthier, and it allows your child to interact with more children.

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