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Safely spooky

Officials offer tips on how to avoid harm on?Halloween

October 25, 2009
By RODNEY MINOR, The Leader-Herald

Halloween may be a time for thrills and chills, but children and adults can still stay safe and have fun Saturday.

Sue Cridland, the director of community education for Nathan Littauer Hospital, said it is important on Halloween that any children out trick-or-treating have some sort of supervision.

"The older [children] may not be happy about it, but there should be some sort of supervision," she said.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/ Bill Trojan

Sherri Ferguson, her daughter, Rhea-Annea Ferguson, and her husband, Jeff Ferguson, work together Wednesday on the extensive Halloween display outside their home at 48 Oak Lane in Gloversville.

Montgomery County Undersheriff Jeffery T. Smith said kids should not go out at all unless they are with a buddy. Friends and family should know the route trick-or-treaters will be traveling.

Smith said reflective clothing should be worn, or reflective tape should be put on the costume.

"We want kids to enjoy Halloween, but do it safely," he said.

According to a list of tips from the Mayo Clinic's Web site, parents should pin a piece of paper with the child's name, address and phone number inside his or her pocket in case they get separated from the group. Parents also should make sure trick-or-treaters carry a flashlight with fresh batteries.

All trick-or-treaters should stay on the sidewalks as much as possible and obey all traffic signals, according to a news release from the American College of Emergency Physicians.

For people giving out treats Halloween evening, anything that is a single serving and factory-sealed can set a parents mind at ease compared to open or hand-made items, Cridland said.

Cridland said that if people make little bags of food, they can put a label with their name and address on it. That way, people will know who gave the food to their children.

Likewise, she said it is important that parents inspect anything their children come back with.

People also may want to consider giving out toys, stickers, tattoos or any number of items this Halloween, Cridland said.

"It doesn't have to be food," she said.

When it comes to costumes, Cridland said it should be the correct length. It should not be too long and risk tripping the child. Any shoes or accessories should fit the child, as well.

The ACEP news release said costume fabric, wigs and beards should be made of flame-resistant materials, such as polyester or nylon. Any pointed accessories - such as swords, wands or knives - should be flexible and have dulled edges, the release said.

It is important if children wear masks, Cridland said, that they are able to see out of it well enough to walk safely.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site, any makeup should be tested on a small area first. Makeup should be removed before bedtime as well, the Web site said, in order to avoid any skin or eye irritation.

People also can lower their risk of eye injury by not wearing decorative contact lenses, the CDC Web site said.

Treat-givers can help keep their house safe by cleaning the sidewalk and removing any items that may be in the path of trickor-treaters, outside or in the house, the Mayo Clinic said. People also should have good control of their pets, to make sure no frightened animal bites someone.

Sherri Ferguson tries to make sure her house is as safe as possible when she decorates it for Halloween.

For instance, the Gloversville resident has a guillotine that is made with real steel as a decoration outside. She also has a large, inflatable pumpkin as a decoration.

However, the steel is bent on the guillotine and the wood cannot be lifted high enough for someone to get their head underneath it anyway. The inflatable pumpkin is tied down to help avoid any accidents.

When it comes to Halloween night, Ferguson stresses not only the importance of safe makeup, but making sure there is supervision.

"Parents have to be with their kids," she said.

Perhaps because of parental supervision, local law enforcement officials said they rarely run into major injuries or vandalism on Halloween.

Smith said every once in a while, they get a report of tainted candy or vandalism. However, for the most part people are pretty safe, he said.

Gloversville Police Capt. Jim Lorenzoni said officers will be out in force Halloween night, trying to deter any potential vandals. Officers on bicycle patrol and in "plainclothes" will be out, in addition to the usual patrols, he said.

It is normal for the police department to get reports of pranks on Halloween, Lorenzoni said.

"We tend to confiscate a lot of shaving cream and eggs," he said.

However, that has reduced over the last several years, Lorenzoni said, and is no longer as widespread as it used to be.

For more safety tips, visit the Mayo Clinic's Web site at and the CDC's Web site at



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