Though Halloween festivities are more than two weeks away, the local Better Business Bureau is already providing tips for keeping children safe during the observance.
Dottie Callina, a spokeswoman for the BBB, said there are three main areas that raise safety concerns — candy, lawns, and costumes.
"The most important part of Halloween is keeping it safe for our children," she said.
For children, eating candy and treats is the highlight of the annual festivity, she said, but before letting youngsters satisfy their sweet tooth, parents or guardians should make sure they inspect the collected goodies. Children should eat a snack before trick-or-treating, so too much nibbling on their tasty finds can be prevented, she added.
Parents and guardians should also advise children not to eat candy that isn't commercially wrapped, Callina said. Commercially wrapped treats should also be inspected for tampering, however. This includes a search for tiny pinholes, tears and any unusual appearance or discoloration of wrappers, she said.
"Parents of very young children should remove any choking hazards, such as gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys," said the spokeswoman.
Halloween is also a day when households can showcase their spookiness. Those decorating their lawns for the festivities, should make sure items are outdoor-proof, she said. If a tag on a Halloween decoration instructs that it should be placed indoors, make sure it placed inside, not outside, where it can be a hazard.
This is especially crucial for electronic products with motion detectors made for indoor use, Callina said. A resident could be liable, if a child gets hurt with this kind of product outside. "It hardly makes sense to expose your couple-hundred-dollars' worth of hardware to the elements, much less run the risk of shocking a curious [8-year-old] who happens to poke or prod the bogeyman on your wet porch," she said.
A clear path to the candy distribution area at a lawn display is necessary, she said. Children carrying buckets of candy with their costumes and masks on could be a recipe for clumsiness, and disaster. "No power cords," said Callina. "No tie-lines for inflatable props. Keep the path clear."
Consumers should also protect expensive and delicate items showcased in their lawn display, she said. These items can be protected by barricading them with a cemetery fence, put together with screws and polyvinyl chloride pipe. "Keep the good stuff out of reach," she advised. "Besides being notoriously clumsy, kids are also insatiably curious."
Costumes are the highlight of Halloween, but even so, make sure a child's costume actually fits, said Callina. The costume must offer full mobility and sport appropriate trim were needed, she said.
The youngster should not be overloaded with props, she added. Parents and guardians should have a child do a walk through at home in full gear with his or her candy bucket. Children should be able to maneuver around the house with no problems. If there are problems while the child is walking, a costume change or alteration may need to take place, she said.
"If they can circumnavigate the house without bowling over a lamp or smashing the big screen, they can probably make it along the sidewalk in safety," said Callina.
She added that it is crucial that children be able to see clearly through their masks. If needed, a couple of extra snips on the peep holes may do the trick, she said. Children should also wear comfortable shoes when trick-or-treating.
Callina also strongly recommended that children always be accompanied by an adult when trick-or-treating.