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4 surprising Halloween hazards

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By Gail Belsky
From Your Family Today 

The United States has 41 million kids between the ages of 5 and 14. On Halloween night, many of them will be out trick-or-treating under potentially hazardous conditions. The No.1 threat? Falling.

Kids being struck by cars are the most publicized type of Halloween accident, but falls cause more injuries, according to the National Safety Council. A 2010 report in the journal Pediatrics showed that the greatest number of ER visits around Halloween involve 10- to14-years-olds who have fractured or cut their hands and fingers. Other common injuries include broken bones, burns and eye injuries caused by sharp objects.

Fortunately, the vast majority of Halloween accidents can be avoided with a little advance planning. Here are the top Halloween hazards, along with some simple tips for preventing the common injuries they cause.

Halloween Hazard No. 1: Masks and costumes

Common Injury: Trips and falls

*Avoid costumes with baggy pants, high heels and oversized shoes.
*Avoid masks, or make sure they don't block your kids' vision.
*Make sure hats and scarves that cover your kids' heads are on securely and won't fall over their eyes.
*Buy or make costumes that fit well and don't drag on the ground.
*Arm your kids with flashlights.

Halloween Hazard No. 2: Pumpkin carving

Common Injury: Cuts

*Don't let younger kids carve. (Have them draw the pattern and scoop out the seeds instead.)
*Supervise tweens and teens when they're carving.
*Make sure the carving tools and surfaces are dry.
*Avoid sharp kitchen knives that can get wedged inside the pumpkin; use a carving kit instead.

Halloween Hazard No. 3: Costume accessories

Common Injury: Injury to eyes

*Make sure that accessories such as swords, knives, wands and other pointed objects are soft, flexible and have dulled edges.
*Avoid costume contact lenses.

Halloween Hazard No. 4: Fire

Common Injury: Burns

*Make sure costume fabric, wigs and beards have labels that say flame-resistant or flame-retardant.
*Make costumes out of fabric that won't easily ignite, such as nylon or polyester.
*Avoid costumes with baggy sleeves, billowing skirts or long, trailing hems.
*Keep highly flammable decorations -- such as cornstalks and crepe paper, which are highly flammable -- away from flames, light bulbs and heaters.
*Teach your kids to avoid walking near candles or luminaries when they're out trick-or-treating.

Halloween is the biggest night of the year for kids -- and for accidents involving kids. Taking these steps will help keep your trick-or-treaters ringing doorbells instead of racing to the emergency room.

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