CINCINNATI—Halloween is just around the corner.
But before you let your little goblins and ghouls hit the pavement in search of chocolaty treats, physicians at UC suggest you take a few safety precautions.
Michael Benedict, MD, a UC assistant professor and physician for internal medicine and pediatrics at University Pointe, says children are four times more likely to be hit by cars while trick-or-treating on Halloween than any other time of the year.
Benedict says parents can avoid this danger by making children visible to drivers with reflective tape or by dressing them in bright colors.
He adds that parents should make sure their child’s vision is not obstructed by masks or other facial adornments.
“Face paint is a safer option,” Benedict continues, noting that costumes should also fit properly to prevent a child from tripping on excess fabric.
He says children younger than 12 years old should also be supervised during their trick-or-treat outings.
“Children get so excited and are often running from house to house without paying attention,” he says. “It’s a good idea to actively oversee younger children and have a route planned out so that children know where they are supposed to cross the street.”
Benedict also recommends that parents pay attention to the goodies going into their youngster’s Halloween bags and mouths.
“It is simple,” he says. “If the item looks tampered with, don’t eat it. It may be fine to eat homemade goodies, but only if you know and trust the people who are giving them out.”
And even with an obesity epidemic raging through the United States, Benedict says it’s all right to let kids indulge for a few days.
“Halloween is one of those times of the year kids really look forward to,” he says. “Parents know in advance that their children are going to get loads of candy, but they can control intake and ensure that their children don’t overdo it.”
He suggests parents go through their children’s sacks of candy and set up a system where a piece or two is given each day.
“Maybe parents can ration it and give out a few pieces for good behavior until it is gone or make it ‘disappear’ after a few days if there is too much,” he says. He adds that parents should be aware of ingredients in the candy to prevent allergic reactions.
Finally, Benedict says trick-or-treating as a family presents a great opportunity for exercise.
“It is a great way to get out and be active as a family,” he says, adding that parents can dress up and walk with their kids to make the night even more special.
“It is a good time to think about health habits and reassess what you are doing to keep your family healthy and strong.”