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Maximizing Treats, Minimizing Tricks

Monday, October 23, 2006

Experts at the Ruth A. Lawrence Poison and Drug Information Center and Injury Free Coalition for Kids Rochester are teaming up to offer good advice for keeping costumed, candy-hunting kids safe this Halloween.

John Benitez, M.D., M.P.H., managing director of the Ruth A. Lawrence Poison and Drug Information Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center, advises that parents be careful to:

·        Avoid scary houses. Accompany young children, and make sure that older kids travel in groups. Halloween routes should stick to familiar, local neighborhoods.

·        Fight chocolate with chocolate. Make sure kids are fed before they hit the sidewalks trick-or-treating. Enjoying a small amount of candy at home prior to heading out can help curb the urge to try new treats before parents have a chance to check them.

·        Check candy. Discard treats in faded, torn and partially opened wrappers. Toss anything with signs of re-wrapping. Be especially choosy about small, hard candies which can present choking hazards for small children.

·        Be careful with cauldrons. Achieving a smoky, cauldron like punch-bowl with dry ice is a neat party idea, but be sure to not use it in individual glasses; frostbite can occur if it comes in contact with skin.

·        Tell kids to ignore Fido, even if he begs. Some treats, like chocolate, can be poisonous to pets (Pet Hotlines: Animal Poison Prevention Service, $35 per call, 1-866-897-8046; National Animal Emergency Service, $50 per call, 1-888-426-4435).

Anne Brayer, M.D., co-director of the Injury Free Coalition for Kids Rochester at Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong, urges parents to remember the following tips:

·        Remind kids that it’s not a race. Insist that kids take time to cross at corners, look both ways beforehand to check for cars and trucks. There’s plenty of time to be safe, even when candy’s at stake.

·        Choose a smart costume. Dress children in light-colored or reflective clothing so they have a visible glow; you might want to add special reflective tape to candy bags, too. Also, some costumes can be especially flammable – so be careful, when shopping, to choose one that is flame resistant.

·        Carry a flashlight. Fresh batteries to light the way will help avoid trips and further increase your child’s ability to be seen by cars, etc.

·        Paint your child’s face. It’s safer than having him or her wear a mask, which can slip around and limit visibility. Be sure to choose non-toxic makeup.

·        Make your home trick-or-treater friendly. Sweep wet leaves from sidewalks and steps, turn the porch light on and remove garden hoses and lawn ornaments that might cause slips and trips. 

·        Enjoy safer candlelit pumpkins. Choose votive candles and set them on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects. Never leave them unattended.

Established in 1954, the Ruth A. Lawrence Regional Poison and DrugInformation Center is the second oldest poison center in the United States. Certified by the American Association of Poison Control Centers, it operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days per year to serve the 12 county Finger Lakes Region.

The Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Rochester is a child injury prevention program centered at the Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong, and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The program’s main goal is to reduce the incidence and severity of childhood injury in the greater Rochester metropolitan area.

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