Oakland Press: Follow basic safety tips to help ensure a fun and safe Halloween

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Sen. Mike Kowall

Sen. Mike Kowall

By Sen. Mike Kowall
15th Senate District

Next weekend, our streets will be filled with goblins, ghouls, ghosts and all manner of other characters both scary and delightful, as young people of all ages celebrate Halloween. Halloween is a fun and exciting way for children to dress up, use their imaginations and receive some sweet treats in return.

However, with our streets filled with costumed children, it is important to use caution to keep our kids safe. With that in mind, I offer some tips to help ensure that your family has a safe and Happy Halloween.

First, small children should never go trick-or-treating by themselves. Make sure a responsible older sibling or adult is with young children at all times.

If older children go trick-or-treating without an adult, make sure they stick together as a group and only go to familiar neighborhoods. Tell children both young and old to stay in populated, well-lit areas and use a sidewalk if available.

Attach a glow stick or reflective tape to your children’s costumes to make them more visible to drivers, and always carry a flashlight with fresh batteries.

Trick-or-treaters should never enter a stranger’s home, and they should never consume unwrapped food items or open beverages if offered.

Consider serving your kids a filling meal before trick-or-treating so they won’t be tempted to eat candy before they bring it home for you to check. Once your children arrive home, have an adult thoroughly inspect all candy. (If the kids bring home an excessive amount of candy, consider donating the excess to one of several Oakland County locations — some even offer cash or prizes! Halloween Candy Buyback Metro Detroit 2015 offers more information.)

Because many store-bought masks restrict vision, cut large eye-holes in masks when necessary. Make sure costumes do not restrict movement.

Carving pumpkins can cause mild to serious injuries, so make sure you closely supervise your children when they partake in this fun activity. Likewise, if your child is carrying a prop (such as a toy pitchfork) make sure that the tips are smooth and flexible enough not to cause injury.

Finally, teach your kids basic everyday safety, such as not getting into cars or talking to strangers, and to look both ways before crossing streets.

Visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Halloween Safety page online for more safety tips, and view the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Halloween Food Safety Tips for Parents.

By following these safety precautions, we can help ensure a fun and safe holiday for our children.

Happy Halloween!

This op-ed first appeared in the Oakland Press. Senator Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, is the Michigan Senate majority floor leader. He serves the residents of the 15th Senate District, representing western Oakland County.