It’s almost Halloween again. While it varies from community to community, trick or treating is still an ongoing custom. Before sending your little ones out in search of candy, consider the following to ensure that he or she has a trick-free Halloween:

• Don’t buy a costume unless it’s labeled “flame-retardant.”

• Make sure that wigs and “beards” don’t cover your child’s eyes, nose or mouths.

• Encourage your child to choose a costume without a mask. Masks can make it difficult for your child to breathe. Use face paint instead.

• Suggest a light-colored costume for your child, or add glow-in-the dark tape on the front and back of a dark costume or the trick-or-treat bags.

• Avoid oversized or high-heeled shoes that can cause your child to trip and fall.

• Make sure that accessories, such as swords or wands are flexible.

• Put a name tag with your phone number on or inside your child’s costume.

If your child will be trick-or-treating:

• Accompany them, but make sure they know your home phone number and cellphone number, and how to call 911 in case they get lost.

• If your older child is trick-or-treating, make sure that he or she knows to stay with a group of friends and to never go to houses that don’t have the porch lights on, never go inside anyone’s house, to cross the street at crosswalks and never assume that vehicles will stop.

• Children should carry flashlights with fresh batteries.

• Limit trick-or-treating to your neighborhood or to homes of people that you or your children know.

• Check your community for safe Halloween parties, rather than sending your child out trick-or-treating.

• When your child returns from trick-or-treating, check all treats to make sure that they’re sealed and that there are no signs of tampering. Throw away any candy that is not in a sealed package.

• Don’t allow young children to have hard candy, gum or other items they may choke on.

• Provide a filling meal before your children go out to trick or treat so that they won’t eat as many treats.

Make sure that children who trick-or-treat at your house will be safe, also. Remove anything that might obstruct your walkway, provide a well-lit outside entrance to your home and put pets away. Consider purchasing Halloween items other than candy, such as erasers, stickers, crayons, pencils, sugar-free gum or dried fruits. If you carve a pumpkin, try using a glow stick instead of a candle.

Sally Robinson is a clinical professor of pediatrics at UTMB Children’s Hospital. This column isn’t intended to replace the advice of your child’s physician.

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