Help make Halloween as safe as it is sweet in Washington Co.

October 22, 2007|By HEATHER KEELS

WASHINGTON COUNTY - This Halloween, the streets might be filled with witches, ghosts and zombies, but experts warn the night's real horrors aren't the ones ringing doorbells.

Drunken drivers, unattended jack-o'-lanterns and novelty contact lenses are just a few of the dangers parents should be aware of before sending children out to trick or treat this year, according to health and safety organizations. With a little extra planning and supervision, however, parents can help keep the candy-gathering ritual as safe as it is sweet.

For adult partygoers:

· Watch out for children in dark clothing. The combination of parties and trick-or-treating has made Halloween consistently one of the top three days for pedestrian injuries and fatalities in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

· If your Halloween celebrations include alcohol, use a designated driver, call a cab or stay where you are until you are sober.


When designing costumes:

· Opt for nontoxic face paint rather than masks that can restrict breathing or obscure vision, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends.

· Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape.

· Look for costumes, masks, beards and wigs that are flame-resistant. Although this doesn't mean the item won't catch on fire, it does mean it will resist burning, the commission says.

· Don't wear decorative contact lenses unless they have been approved and fitted by an eye-care professional. These can cause permanent eye injuries, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

For the big night:

· Accompany those younger than 12.

· Map out a route ahead of time, choosing well-lit streets and neighborhoods.

· Equip children with flashlights, and make sure they stay on sidewalks, cross streets only at corners and look both ways before crossing.

· If children are invited into a stranger's home, they should say "no" and leave immediately, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recommends.

· Tell children not to eat treats until they get home, and discard anything that's not commercially wrapped or shows any signs of tampering, the FDA advises. Parents of young children also should remove choking hazards such as gum and hard candy.

Trick-or-treating times in Washington County

  • Boonsboro, 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31

  • Clear Spring, 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31

  • Hagerstown, 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31

  • Hancock, 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30

  • Keedysville 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31

  • Sharpsburg, 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31

  • Smithsburg, 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31

  • Williamsport, 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 31

For Funkstown's trick-or-treat time, call Town Hall at 301-791-0948.

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