Parents want to know the best way to keep their kids and teenagers safe on Halloween as the ghoulish, yet fun, night approaches.
"There are many different safety issues to take into consideration, such as making sure children are not out late unsupervised," said David Schwebel, Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham psychologist, director of the UAB Youth Safety Lab and associate dean for Research in the Sciences. "It should be a fun time for families and friends, but safety is important too. Parents need to take safety into consideration with many factors such as roads, pumpkin-carving and candy."
UAB Callahan Eye Hospital's Shilpa Register, O.D., Ph.D., says Halloween can be a time when eye safety is often overlooked.
"Costume makeup has become trendy in recent years, but remember to test it on a small spot first to confirm there are no allergic reactions," Register said. "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends makeup rather than masks, which can block the child's vision. Also, all too often we see patients who purchase decorative contact lenses at beauty shops or gas stations, which can result in eye injuries or even blindness."
According to Andrew Pucker, O.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the School of Optometry, it has been estimated that more than 1,000 emergency room visits per year are associated with decorative contact lenses.
"We need to work toward preventing decorative contact lens injuries through educating our patients about the potential health risks associated with poorly fitting lenses and improper lens care," Pucker said. "Overall, we need to urge our patients to use common sense and make safe choices while they are having their Halloween fun."
Schwebel, Register and Pucker offer these tips that parents can use to help make this Halloween fun and safe for their children:
- Adults can teach older children to cut jack-o'-lanterns and light candles.
- Younger children can scoop out the seeds and draw designs on the pumpkins with a marker.
Walk safely during trick-or-treating
- Look left, right and left again when crossing, and keep looking as you cross.
- Do not run across the street.
- Always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there is no sidewalk, walk on direct routes with the least amount of street-crossing.
- Put electronic devices down, keep heads up, and be mindful of potential distracted pedestrian behavior.
- Make sure costumes fit right to avoid trips and falls.
- Instead of using masks for costumes, use face paint or makeup to avoid blocking the child's vision.
- Be aware that false eyelashes and costume makeup that can irritate the eyes.
- Do not purchase decorative contact lenses at beauty shops or gas stations; consult an optometrist or ophthalmologist if this is your desired look.
- Do not overdo it with scary costumes for and around younger children. Young children can be sensitive to unfamiliar and scary things.
- Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers, and if possible, choose light colors.
- Avoid sharp accessories such as pitchforks that could cause bodily injuries.
- Slow down and be especially alert in neighborhoods.
- Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, medians and curbs.
- Be aware that popular trick-or-treating hours are between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m.
- Avoid distraction while driving.
- Search and inspect all candy. Any open pieces of candy should be thrown away.
- Watch out for choking hazards with young children.