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Treat, no trick: Halloween without the ER

Posted by Mitch Lipka  October 28, 2013 01:30 PM

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cpsc.jpgYou’d think consumers wouldn’t need advice about Halloween. But once the holiday comes, it usually becomes clear that plenty of people could have benefited from some.

I like to warn parents about the perils of not only this holiday, but about also cheap, junky products in general. That includes the annual reference to the little Halloween flashlight someone gave my son a few years back that caught fire. Not only have I written extensively of the dangers of poorly made gadgets (as well as toys and clothing), I’ve also had to extinguish one myself.

When it comes to Halloween safety, apply some common sense. The idea is to avoid having your children injured or worse. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Don’t let your kids wear costumes that are so long they’ll step on them.
  • Go for a light colored costume. If dark ends up being the motif, consider the US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s tip of using reflective tape as trim or the American Academy of Pediatrics’ idea of using the tape on bags that hold the goodies.
  • Have your kids carry flashlights as they go trick or treating.
  • Accompany children and make sure they use the sidewalks (when there are sidewalks).
  • Tell the children they may not enter someone’s home unless they are with you or another adult who is escorting them.
  • Stick to a familiar neighborhood and do not go to homes that do not have outdoor lights on.

In addition, the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary recommends avoiding masks or other gear that blocks peripheral vision. Consider instead hypo-allergenic make-up. And, the hospital recommends, avoid wearing contact lenses that are not prescribed by a doctor.

When it comes to the treats themselves, the state Office of Consumer Affairs suggests parents give them a once-over to look for any signs of tampering. Toss out anything that was previously opened. And avoid any homemade treats unless they were given to you by someone you know well. Consider using battery powered lights in carved pumpkins rather than candles.

Halloween ought to be a time of spooky fun, not scary reality. A small dose of caution will go a long way toward avoiding really frightening places like the emergency room.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at


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