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Halloween costume safety

Parents' Halloween fears of predators and tainted treats pale before the scary truth that their children's most dangerous threat comes from their own costumes. Every year, children receive serious injuries, including burns, because parents do not realize that a costume can be a dangerous product. The Consumer Product Safety Commission offers some suggestions for costume safety.

Children need to wear flame retardant costumes. Current regulations already require that commercially sold costumes meet minimum fire safety standards. Parents who make their children's costumes should check that any materials they use are also flame resistant.

The biggest nighttime trick-or-treating threat is not what hides in the dark, but that children may be hidden themselves. Even bright headlights deny drivers enough time to stop safely after spotting the shadow of a darkly clad child. Besides wearing light colored costumes, children should carry flashlights. Reflective strips offer even greater safety.

Capes that tie around the neck can strangle children. These should attach to the shoulders, or use a fastener that quickly loosens with a light tug. Baggy fits and flimsy fabric not only risk catching fire while passing a candle, but risk trips and falls on dark sidewalks and walkways. The same goes for shoes. Those Cinderella slippers could mean a rough tumble and injury on unfamiliar steps in the dark.

Parents who take these measures to avoid dangerous costumes, in addition to the precautions they already take, assure their children a happier and safer Halloween. Better memories will come from a safe return home than from an unexpected, and expensive, trip to the emergency room.

Source: GantDaily.com, "Consumer Product Safety Commission Provides Three Steps to a Safe Halloween Celebration," Oct. 25, 2011

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