Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Trick or Treating Safely!

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

The Liberty County Courthouse Employees are all about Halloween!

For children, there don’t seem to be many holidays that exhibit, apart from Christmas, the joy and anticipation of Halloween.  I remember those feelings as well and how exciting it was to dress up and get candy to your heart’s content.  Those days of dressing up as a sailor, Indiana Jones, an elephant, or whatever else I may have fancied may be over (see above for Liberty County Courthouse fun), but the fun lives on through my children.  As that night is tonight, I wanted to pass along a few tips that Extension has about making sure that everyone, parents and youth alike, have a fun and safe Halloween.

First regarding costumes, fabric can easily catch fire if it brushes too close to a candle-lit jack-o'-lantern, so choose flame-resistant costume materials.  Add pieces of reflective tape to make a costume more visible at night, especially if it is dark colors.  If a costume requires a mask or other face covering, you should be able to see clearly and breathe easily.  For increased visibility and safety, consider using face paint or makeup instead of a mask.  Be more visible by carrying candy in a white or brightly-colored bag.  Alternatively, put reflective tape on the bag.

For those that don’t go out with the children, but are at home waiting for youth to stop by, consider using small battery-powered lights inside jack-o'-lanterns instead of candles to reduce the chances of decorations catching fire.  To create a spooky atmosphere, use colored light bulbs or theatrical gels to change the color of your porch light.  Don’t use plastic wrap because it could melt or cause a fire.  If you use cloth, don’t drape it over the bulb, and make sure that it is not touching the bulb at all.  If you do put candles in pumpkins or paper bags, set them back from the walkway, so long costumes will not fall into the flames.  Don’t light candles in cluttered areas, on unsteady furniture, or near curtains and drapes.

If you are answering the door and giving out treats, offer non-candy substitutes such as prepackaged fruit snacks, pretzels, or sealed boxes of raisins.  Treats do not have to be edible—items such as pencils, stickers, or small toys add variety to a trick-or-treater's haul.

For the youth, trick-or-treating alone isn’t safe.  Always go with a group of friends or an adult you trust.  Never go into a house unless your parents are with you.  Avoid darkened houses; only visiting those with a front porch light turned on.  Stay on sidewalks and driveways to avoid damaging plants or tripping over lawn obstacles.  Carry a flashlight, so you can see where you are walking and so others can see you.  Walk on the sidewalk wherever possible, but in areas where there isn’t a sidewalk, walk facing the traffic.
The last bit of advice is to have fun, both as parents and children.  These are memories that everyone is creating for a lifetime!

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