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Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

There's no trick to Halloween safety

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Christy McDowell puts the finishing makup touches on her granddaughter Shelby Hodgkiss.
SIKESTON -- Trick-or-treating can be a fun time for everyone involved, but it can quickly go from fun to frightening if certain safety precautions aren't taken.

The No. 1 cause of injuries Halloween night may be accidental falls from tripping over hems of costumes, steps or curbs, but the scariest fact is that four times more children are killed that night each year in pedestrian-

automobile accidents than any other night of the year, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Young trick-or-treaters should be escorted and closely watched," said Karen Funkenbusch, University of Missouri safety specialist. "They often wear dark costumes and can dart out in front of oncoming traffic."

Halloween night is a time of heavy traffic in residential areas. Motorists should slow down in residential neighborhoods, watch closely for children and be prepared to stop suddenly, she said since kids often don't think of looking both ways.

Parents should instruct their children to stop at curbs, look left and right, wait for proper traffic signals and stay away from behind parked cars. Kids should travel only in familiar areas and along established routes.

Bright-colored costumes are more visible to motorists. For darker costumes, use reflective tape on the costumes and shoes. Flame-resistant costumes are the best ones.

Also included in Halloween safety is using appropriate face/skin paint. "People really need to read about the products and what they're actually using on their faces," said Donna Sternickle, owner of professional face painting company, Alotta Fun 4U2 based in Jackson.

Sternickle, a former Sikeston resident, said the majority of products sold in department stores during Halloween are not intended for children under 10 years old.

"A lot of people tend to use tempera paint, and they'll buy the hobby-type paints, which the have potential to cause third degree burns," Sternickle said. "Most parents don't understand that."

Most products people use to paint their faces are ASTM (American Scientific Testing Methods) approved, but parents should be warned, Sternickle said. Products ASTM-approved are not for use on the skin or face but for paper craft products.

Never use a product on the face that doesn't say "FDA approved, FDA compliant or cosmetic good," Sternickle said.

"If they're going to put anything on the face, instead of buying over-the-

counter Halloween products, buy eye liner pencils, mascara or lipstick pencils at the cosmetic counter," Sternickle suggested.

Other tips to ensure safety on Halloween include having youngsters carry a flashlight. When it comes to the older kids, parents should plan a safe route and be sure to know where the kids are at all times. Set a time for their return home, Funkenbusch said. Make sure that the child is old enough and responsible enough to go out alone.

Stay in lighted areas and stop only at familiar houses in your neighborhood, Funkenbusch said. Let children know they should travel in a group when an adult is not with them.

For homeowners, they should be sure their yard is clear of things such as ladders, hoses, dog leashes and flower pots that can trip young children, Funkenbusch said.

Battery-powered jack o' lanterns are preferable to those using real flame. Put up pets to protect them from cars or from inadvertently biting a trick-or-


When handing out treats at home, make sure they're well wrapped. Consider handing out pencils, pens, erasers, small party favors, etc. instead of candy, Missouri State Highway Patrol suggested.

Finally, children should wait until they get home to sample treats, the Patrol said. Then parents can check treats for evidence of tampering.

From 5:30-7:30 p.m. Oct. 31, the Pemiscot County Sheriff's Office and the Caruthersville Police Department will host their annual "Candy Scan." Candy is inspected using a hand-held metal detector along with a visual inspection.

For those who attend a Halloween party that includes alcohol, the Patrol said to make sure and have a sober, designated driver for the trip home.