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Stony Brook Children’s Shares Safety Tricks to Keep Halloween a Treat

Halloween
 Stony Brook Children's experts have tips on costumes, trick-or-treating, candy and more

Stony Brook, NY, October 14, 2016 — Halloween is meant to be the spookiest time of year, but no parent wants to experience a real scare on the special night.  Stony Brook Children’s experts share tips and tricks on how to steer clear from hidden health and safety dangers.

Costume Caution

Picking out costumes kicks off the Halloween spirit, but before hitting the streets, parents should know that their children’s costumes are not only silly, spooky or sweet, but most importantly, safe!

Creighton
Jill Creighton, MD, Medical Director of Ambulatory Primary Care Pediatrics

Jill Creighton, MD, Medical Director of Ambulatory Primary Care Pediatrics, suggests:

  • Test Run:  Test face make-up on arms two to three days before Halloween to be sure it will not irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction.
  • See Clearly:  Do not allow children to wear decorative contact lenses. They can impair vision or cause an infection. Worse, they may irritate the eye, which can then lead to an abrasion of the cornea.
  • No Trip-Ups:  Make sure costumes and shoes fit properly. A baggy costume that drags on the ground can cause trips, slips and falls.
  • Flame-Resistant:  Costumes that brush up against candles and candle-lit jack-o-lanterns can ignite and cause serious burns. Be sure to monitor children around candle-lit lanterns and jack-o-lanterns in walkways and door entrances.

Safety on the Trick-Or-Treat Trail

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Halloween is one of the top days for pedestrian injuries and fatalities.  Sergey Kunkov, MD, Director of the Pediatric Emergency Department, reminds parents that supervising kids in the street requires full-attention.  The most effective way to prevent distractions is to put cell phones away and keep their eyes and minds on their little ones.  

Parents should also be alert as it gets dark during peak trick-or-treating hours from 4-6pm.  Neighborhood streets will be crowded with cars driving home from work, and there is low visibility for drivers at dusk.  

Smart costume choices are a great way to prevent accidents while walking from house to house.  Kunkov encourages trick-or-treaters to consider reflective strips or light-colored costumes and to avoid costume masks that obscure vision; a great alternative is face paint.

Keeping Treats Sweet

While little ghosts and goblins can’t wait to gobble up their Halloween goodies, Kunkov urges parents to check the candy before letting their kids eat it. “While tampering is rare, it is best to play it safe and throw out anything that is not sealed or a recognized brand,” he says.

If parents are concerned with their child’s weight, a candy-filled holiday may seem like a no-no, but Rosa Cataldo, DO, Director of the Children’s Healthy Weight & Wellness Center, says let them enjoy the day.  She suggests allowing them to eat as much of their candy (a reasonable amount - not the whole bag!) as they wish the day of Halloween, then throw out or donate the rest of the candy the next day. That way the child doesn’t feel deprived and they don’t develop a daily candy habit in the days following.

Schuval
Susan Schuval, MD, Chief of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology

Halloween can also be a tricky time for children with food allergies. Susan Schuval, MD, Chief of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, gives these tips to keep fun front and center, but allergic reactions at bay:

  • Be Prepared:  Carry emergency medications at all times (antihistamine/epinephrine autoinjector)
  • Stay Aware:  Provide parental supervision while trick-or-treating and sorting the candy afterwards
  • Pass Approval:  Before giving the “OK,” check all ingredients and remember treat-sized candy may different in ingredients and may be made on different machinery
  • Better Safe than Sorry:  Sort through and swap out candy that the child may be allergic to

 

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About Stony Brook Children’s Hospital
With 104 beds, Stony Brook Children’s Hospital is Suffolk County’s only children’s hospital. More than 8,000 children and young adults are discharged each year. Stony Brook Children’s has more than 160 pediatric specialists in over 30 specialties. The hospital is Suffolk County’s only Level 4 Regional Perinatal Center and has a Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. It is home to the nation’s first Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Center and also offers a Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Program, Pediatric Cardiology Program, Pediatric HIV and AIDS Center, and Cystic Fibrosis Center. To learn more, visit www.stonybrookchildrens.org .