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As parents and children plan their "spookiest" costumes, keep these safety tips in mind.


CHICKASHA, Okla. - It will not be long until the neighborhood is full of princesses, ghosts, witches and other fun or spooky characters. As much fun as children have going door to door getting lots of treats, it is equally important to keep safety in mind.

Susan Routh, Grady County Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, said this is an exciting time of year for children.


“Aside from getting all sorts of tasty treats, dressing up as a beloved princess or scary witch is the highlight of the celebration for children. However, when putting together the perfect costume, safety is a must,” Routh said. “If you purchase a costume, look for the words flame resistant on the label. This doesn’t mean the costume can’t catch fire, but instead indicates the material will resist burning and should extinguish quickly once removed from the ignition source. To minimize the risk of coming into contact with candles or other sources of ignition, avoid costumes made of flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts.”


Choose costumes that are light or brightly colored. As your children go through the neighborhood trick-or-treating, this will help make them more visible to motorists. Treat bags can be decorated with reflective tape, and consider placing a few strips of reflective tape on the costume itself. Youngsters also can carry flashlights to enhance visibility.


Routh also suggests in lieu of masks, create a natural mask using paint designed specifically for the face.


“Masks can restrict breathing and obscure vision,” Routh said. “It’s important that children be able to see clearly while navigating through the neighborhood, especially as it begins to get dark. Something else to keep in mind is costume length. Make sure the costume is short enough to prevent it from becoming a tripping hazard.”


Before going to begin those memories, remember children should be accompanied by an adult or an older, responsible child. Before heading out, talk to your children about safety rules, including only going to homes of people you know.


Routh recommends children always walk, not run, from house to house.


“We know they’re going to be excited and in a hurry to get to the next house, but stress the importance of being safe. Use the sidewalk when one is available. Lawn furniture, yard decorations and clotheslines can be dangerous obstacles,” she said. “Also, talk to them about properly crossing the street only at intersections. It’s extremely unsafe to run out from between parked cars.”


Routh said the safety issues also are for parents.


“If you’re driving through neighborhoods, be on heightened alert for children to unexpectedly run out in the road,” Routh said. “Drive slower than you normally would through the neighborhood during the daylight. Accidents can happen in a split second so it’s important to be extremely aware of what’s going on around you.”


Something else Routh recommends is if you are a dog owner, keeping dogs restrained to prevent them from inadvertently jumping on or possibly biting a trick-or-treater.

Routh also recommends children do not eat any of the candy they receive until they get home and parents can inspect it.


“Tampering with Halloween candy is rare, but it’s still a good idea for parents to look it all over before children eat any of it,” she said. “Throw away any unwrapped or suspicious candies.”


For those who do not venture out on Halloween, but do have trick-or-treaters coming to the house, make sure your porch light is in working order. Also, try to clear any obstacles from the yard that could cause someone to trip or fall.


“Halloween can be such a fun time for children and it’s important to take time to make sure everyone stays safe,” Routh said.


For more information about family safety, contact Grady County OSU Cooperative Extension Service at (405) 224-2216.  We are located at 828 W. Choctaw in Chickasha.

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