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Keep Halloween safely scary

By Jay MacDonald · Bankrate.com
Friday, October 19, 2012
Posted: 10 am ET

Halloween is scary in different ways for young children and their parents. While the kids can hardly wait to be unleashed to trick-or-treat, explore a haunted house attraction and stockpile lots and lots of candy, their parents brace to keep their goblins safe and their front porch hazard-free to avoid costly homeowners insurance, auto insurance and health insurance claims.

Despite the seasonal flood of media warnings, Halloween invariably results in a scary number of real-life accidents as excited youngsters in unfamiliar and unintentionally hazardous costumes enter the path of oncoming cars, accidentally catch fire from jack-o'-lanterns, or stumble and fall, bringing an abrupt end to the festivities.

This year's tips from insurance giant Allstate make a lot of sense by focusing on safe costumes and accessories, and on street smarts. Parents who take these six precautions before unleashing their pint-sized ghouls, zombies and Twi-tikes onto the neighborhood stand a better chance of bringing them home safely. Or undead, as the case may be.

1. Avoid "trip-or-treating." Floor-length costumes of the Snow White or Darth Vader variety can easily trip a trick-or-treater navigating often-unfamiliar terrain in the semi-dark. Make sure your child's costume clears the floor by several inches.

2. Help them see and be seen. Visibility is key to Halloween safety, both for trick-or-treaters and motorists trying to dodge them. Be sure to equip your ghouls with a glow stick at minimum, or, better yet, a flashlight with fresh batteries, so they can see where they're going and others can see them coming. To be extra safe, affix reflective tape to their costume, goodie bag and shoes.

3. Avoid fire danger. Jack-o'-lanterns present a seasonal fire hazard to youngsters, especially those wearing masks that limit vision. Be sure that costumes, wigs, capes, flowing beards and accessories are fire-retardant. Costumes containing spray-on glitter pose a particular fire risk because the adhesive is typically not fire-retardant.

4. Makeup and sneaks beat masks and heels. It's tricky enough to navigate the 'hood in a costume in the dark. Use non-toxic makeup instead of masks (be sure to remove it before bedtime) and substitute flats for high heels, or sneaks for those Buzz Lightyear platform shoes. Who needs a sprained ankle on Halloween?

5. Avoid sharp accessories. If your little ones must be Jack Sparrow and Glinda the good witch, be sure their sword, wand or other sharp accessories are made of foam, not hard plastic or metal, both for their sake and the safety of fellow trick-or-treaters.

6. Walk, don't run. Perhaps the most important rule for a goblin or ghoul? Never run while trick-or-treating, even between houses. Instruct your skeleton crew to stay on well-lit sidewalks, avoid neighborhood short cuts and never step into the street without looking both ways, as driver response times plummet in the dark.

Follow me on Twitter: @omnisaurus

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