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7 Rules for Safe Trick-or-Treating

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With October 31 fast approaching, you’re probably busy planning costumes, carving jack-o'-lanterns, and stocking up on candy. But it’s also a good idea, among all those preparations, to put some precautions in place to ensure your Halloween will be as safe as it is spooky. Below are seven rules for safe trick-or-treating.

1. MAKE SURE YOUR KID’S COSTUME FITS WELL—AND WON’T CAUSE INJURIES.

Your child will be spending the entire evening in his costume, so make sure it actually fits. Hem dresses and pants that are too long so that your child won’t trip. Outfit your trick-or-treaters in comfortable walking shoes, and make sure laces are double-knotted. And if a costume requires a weapon (sword, lightsaber, etc.), make sure it’s flexible and made from plastic.

Masks are often made with ill-fitting eye slits and next-to-nonexistent holes through which to breathe, so opt instead for non-toxic face paint and makeup. The CDC recommends testing the paint or makeup on a small area of your child’s face ahead of time in order to check for allergic reactions, and then washing everything off before bedtime that night. Be sure to check that the costume is flame resistant as well.

2. MAKE SURE YOUR CHILD WILL BE PROPERLY SUPERVISED.

Per Kids Health, children under 12 should not trick-or-treat without an adult. If your kid is old enough to knock on doors alone, make sure she does so with a group of friends. And whether you’re going out with your child or not, plan their route in advance. It will help ensure no one ends up in unfamiliar areas, and that family members always know where everyone is.

3. MAKE SURE YOUR KID CAN SEE—AND BE SEEN—IN THE DARK.

Equip your child with glow sticks or flashlights stocked with fresh batteries so that he can find his way on unlit sidewalks. The Red Cross also suggests adorning his costume and trick-or-treat bag with reflective tape, so that he can be easily spotted on dark streets.

4. USE STREET SMARTS.

When out trick-or-treating, be sure to cross the street at crosswalks and with the light. When it’s not possible to travel on sidewalks, the CDC recommends walking on the edge of the road facing oncoming traffic to be safest.

Teach your child to be aware of cars backing up and pulling out of parking spots, and to never dart out from between parked cars. Safe Kids Worldwide also advises instructing your child to make eye contact with drivers, to ensure they’ve actually seen her before she crosses in front of their car.

5. BE CAREFUL WHERE—AND WHO—YOU TRICK-OR-TREAT.

The safest trick-or-treating happens in familiar, well-lit areas, says the National Safety Council. Plan to trick-or-treat in your own neighborhood, where there’s a good chance you’ll know the people whose doors you’ll be knocking on. If your child is venturing farther from home, caution her against visiting homes without their lights on. Only take treats at the doorway; make sure your child understands he should never enter someone’s home.

6. CHECK YOUR CHILD’S CANDY TO MAKE SURE IT IS SAFE TO EAT.

Although tampering with candy is rare these days, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should still check your child’s loot for items that are unwrapped or aren’t packaged in their original wrapping. If you have a young child at home, throw out any very small or hard candies that could cause choking. Similar caution should be used if your child has food allergies.

7. PROVIDE YOUR CHILD WITH IDENTIFICATION.

Despite all your best planning, it is still possible you will get separated from your child. To ensure his safety, the MayoClinic suggests pinning a piece of paper with your child’s name, address, and your phone number to an inside coat pocket, to aid in a quick and easy reunion.

All images via iStock.

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Here's What to Do With Leftover Halloween Candy
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Americans indulged their sweet tooth in a major way this Halloween, spending an estimated $2.7 billion on candy intended for front porch distribution. Rather than confronting a weepy child with an empty bowl because they bought too little, shoppers tend to buy in bulk. Come November, that can mean pounds of sugar-packed temptation still sitting in the house.

The good news: You can remove the risk to your waistline and do some good at the same time. A number of charitable organizations take leftover candy and send it to troops stationed overseas. Operation Gratitude has set up a number of drop-off centers around the country—you can search by zip code—to accept your extra treats. Once collected, they’ll send them to both troops and first responders. Last year, the group collected nearly 534,000 pounds of goodies.

Often, drop-off locations will be located in dental offices as a way of reminding everyone of the perils of tooth decay from excess sugar consumption. Some dentists even offer buy-back programs, paying $1 for each pound returned.

If donating to a national program is proving difficult, you can always deliver the extra candy to local food pantries or homeless shelters.

[h/t weartv.com]  

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Health
The FDA Has a Warning for People Who Love Black Licorice
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Every Halloween, children and adults alike gorge on candy. One estimate puts the number of junk calories consumed at up to 7000 per kid, the equivalent of 13 Big Macs. While all of that sugar is most certainly not healthy, Consumerist reports that there’s actually a more immediate danger to your well-being: black licorice.

Most versions of the candy, which gains some popularity around the spooky season, contains glycyrrhizin, a sweetening compound found in the licorice root. While tasty, glycyrrhizin can affect potassium levels in the body, causing them to fall to dangerously low levels. High blood pressure, swelling, and even heart issues can develop as a result.

It’s not just bingeing that can cause issues. According to the Food and Drug Administration, adults over 40 who eat more than two ounces of black licorice a day for two weeks could suffer heart problems like arrhythmia. If you have a history of heart disease, you’re even more susceptible to complications.

The FDA recommends using a little common sense when consuming black licorice, eating it in moderate amounts and stopping if you notice any adverse symptoms. If you do experience potassium level drops, it’s usually reversible once you put the bag down. Treats that are licorice-flavored are typically artificial and won’t have the same effect as the actual plant root—but for your waistline’s sake, try to avoid gorging on anything.

[h/t Consumerist]

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