Make sure Halloween scares are all in fun

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween can be a fun time -- just check out the costumed kids at McCook Community College on Page 21 today.

The weather promises to clear up by Saturday, meaning this year's holiday has the potential to be busier than ever.

But mix excited kids, candy, dark streets and perhaps even intoxicated drivers, and you have a recipe for disaster.

The Nebraska Regional Poison Center offers some safety cautions many of us may not have thought of.

For instance:

* Glow sticks can cause immediate stinging and a burning sensation if the liquid comes in contact with the mouth or the eyes. Be careful when small children put these in their mouths.

* Serving punch containing dry ice is not considered dangerous as long as the ice is not swallowed in its solid form. Small pieces should not be put in individual glasses. Frostbite can occur if dry ice touches the skin or mouth.

Other tips:

* Sponsor a block party as an alternative to wide-range trick-or-treating. Parties at home can substitute for, or at least shorten, trick-or-treat trips.

* Give out non-edible treats such as stickers, pencils, erasers, barrettes or other party favors.

* Treats should be carefully inspected by adults. Homemade treats or anything out of its original wrapper should be discarded unless parents are positive of the identity of the person from which it came.

* Providing children with a full meal before trick-or-treating will reduce the temptation for children to eat treats before they return home.

* Make sure children are accompanied by an adult and take a flashlight along if it is dark. All children should stay in their own neighborhood and go only in homes of friends and family.

* Costumes should be warm, well fitting and non-flammable. Masks should provide adequate vision and should be removed while children are crossing streets. Use inexpensive, nontoxic face paint as an alternative to masks. Consider using reflective tape on costumes worn after dark.

* Stay away from barking dogs or upset animals.

Call the Nebraska Regional Poison Center at (800) 222-1222 for more information.

For adults, Halloween seems to be one of the more popular party occasions of the year. This year, according to the National Retail Federation, about 30 percent of all adults will be celebrating with others, and an estimated 62 percent of those age 18 to 24 will attend or host a party.

Last year, 58 percent of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. on Halloween night involved a driver or motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher.

AAA Nebraska urges:

* Designate a sober driver in advance, or plan to use a taxi service. Never ride with a driver who has been drinking.

* Consider an overnight stay. If attending a party at a friend's home, consider asking to stay overnight, or look for a hotel within walking distance.

* Don't let impaired guests drive. If hosting a Halloween party, remind guests to plan ahead and designate their sober driver, offer alcohol-free beverages and do not allow impaired guests to drive.

With a little advance planning, all the scary things this Halloween will be just in fun.

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