State Health Department and Consumer Protection Board Offer Important Safety Tips for Halloween

Albany, October 30, 2001 – New York State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr. P.H. and State Consumer Protection Board Chair and Executive Director, C. Adrienne Rhodes today reminded New Yorkers that for a safe and happy Halloween parents should carefully inspect all Halloween treats and discard any unwrapped items before children eat them.

"I want to make sure that this year for Halloween – and every year – we take all preventive measures to reduce the incidence of childhood injury, so families can enjoy a safe and fun holiday," said Dr. Novello. "By planning ahead and being observant, parents can help to make sure that Halloween is both safe and fun for everyone, especially for their children, by following a few common sense safety tips."

Dr. Novello said that simple preventive measures can help eliminate Halloween–related injuries. In addition to ensuring that candy is safe to eat, parents should choose safe costumes – some costumes may be flammable and could be ignited by open flames from candles and jack–o'–lanterns. Parents should also be aware that abrasions and cuts can occur from sharp objects attached to masks and costumes. Parents should plan ahead to make sure that their child's candy and costume are safe.

"Your child can still go trick–or–treating this year because parents can and should follow the same safety rules that can make for a safe and happy Halloween any year," said C. Adrienne Rhodes, Chair and Executive Director of the New York State Consumer Protection Board. "Parents should only visit the homes of people you know; check Halloween treats for any signs that they have been unwrapped or tampered with; and wear bright–colored clothing and bring flashlights to make the night as safe as possible."

Halloween Safety Tips

Treats

  • Instruct your children not to eat any treats before an adult has examined them carefully for evidence of tampering. To discourage munching provide a light snack before they go out.
  • Discard any unwrapped, ripped or discolored items and homemade candy or baked goods.
  • Wash all fruit thoroughly, inspect it for holes including small punctures, and cut it open before allowing children to eat it.
  • Immediately report to the police any suspicious item that may have been tampered with.
  • Serve only pasturized juice or cider that has been treated to destroy harmful bacteria at Halloween parties.
  • Avoid items that are small enough to present a choking hazard for young children, such as gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys.
  • Note that the presence of white powder on candy may not be unusual and could be from starch, sugar, or chocolate "bloom" ( when fat separates from chocolate) and could appear as a white or grayish powder.

Costumes

  • Purchase flame resistant fabrics such as nylon or polyester or look for the label "Flame Resistant" when selecting masks, costumes, beards and wigs. Flame resistant fabrics will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.
  • Purchase or make costumes that are light, bright and clearly visible to motorists.
  • Decorate or trim costumes with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car's headlights, for greater visibility during dusk and darkness. Bags or sacks also should be light colored or decorated with reflective tape.
  • Equip children with flashlights to see and be seen.
  • Guard against trips and falls, by selecting well–fitted costumes that are not trip hazards.
  • Wear well–fitting, sturdy shoes, not oversized high heels.
  • Tie hats and scarves securely to prevent them from slipping over children's eyes and obstructing vision.
  • Fit masks securely, for adequate ventilation, and maximum vision.

Decorations

  • Keep candles and jack–o'–lanterns away from landings and doorsteps where costumes could brush against the flame.
  • Remove obstacles from lawns, steps and porches when expecting trick–or–treaters.
  • Keep candles and jack–o'–lanterns away from curtains, decorations and other combustibles that could be ignited indoors.

Dr. Novello said, "Make this year's Halloween the safest and healthiest ever by following and sharing these safety tips for treats, costumes, and decorations."

10/30/01–111 OPA