The trick to making Halloween a treat is a little preparation.
On an evening when ghouls and goblins roam the streets in search of sweet treats, Rene Hopkins said carefully preparing children and their costumes can help ensure a safe and fun holiday.
"It is all about making happy memories," said Hopkins, a registered nurse and coordinator of Safe Kids East Central Georgia, through the Medical College of Georgia Children's Medical Center.
The biggest risk to trick-or-treaters is vehicles, she said.
"Children are four times more likely to be involved in a pedestrian-related injury than any other time of the year," Hopkins said.
Parents should ensure that costumes include something reflective. A 1-inch square of reflective tape can be seen up to 500 feet away, she said.
Opt for face-paint instead of masks, which can obscure a child's vision.
"Deputies will be out in abundance in an effort to ensure trick-or-treaters, as well as those celebrating the fall tradition of Halloween, have a safe and enjoyable time," Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said. Motorists should drive slowly and be on the lookout for children darting in and out of the street, he said.
Hopkins suggested avoiding loose-fitting costumes and accessories, such as wigs, capes and long skirts that can obscure vision, cause children to trip and get caught in the open flame of a jack-o-lantern. Sturdy shoes will help keep children from tripping or stepping on harmful items.
Younger children should always be accompanied by adults and follow a route that minimizes street crossings. Visit homes on one side of a street, then cross in a well-lighted area to homes on the other side, Morris said. Never cross between parked cars.
Older children trick-or-treating without adults should follow a planned route, only to homes they know, and should carry a cell phone in case of emergency.
Children should visit only the homes with lights on, Hopkins said, and should never go inside a home while trick-or-treating.
Hopkins suggested that children have a snack or light meal before trick-or-treating to ward off the temptation to sample candy before an adult has thoroughly checked it. Candy should be commercially wrapped and sealed. Any open candy or homemade items should be thrown away.
Hopkins said those welcoming trick-or-treaters should think like a child. Clear potential paths through the yard of debris such as rakes and hoses, tripping hazards for children. Set up Halloween decorations out of any potential paths of travel.
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