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BEWARE // Dangers are lurking on Halloween

Ghosts and goblins aren't the only things to be frightened of at Halloween these day. Falls, burns and traffic injuries are the most common injuries for trick-or-treaters, according to the Florida Suncoast SAFE KIDS Coalition at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg.

Many safety experts suggest a home Halloween party or a neighborhood event as opposed to outdoor trick-or-treating. If you choose to trick-or-treat with your child:

Always accompany young children on their rounds.

Travel only in familiar areas and along an established, well-lighted route.

Restrict trick-or-treat visits to home with porch or outside lights on.

Remove breakable items or obstacles such as tools, ladders and children's toys from your steps, lawn and porch.

Bring treats home before eating them. Parents should check treats to ensure that items have not been tampered with and are safety sealed. Be careful with fruit: Cut it open before allowing a child to eat it.

Treats that are alternatives to candy and snacks are stickers, pens, temporary tattoos and tiny fun books.

Look for flame-resistant labels on costumes and wigs but also tell children to stay away from candles burning in jack-o-lanterns.

Keep costumes short enough that children won't trip on them.

Don't make costumes too realistic. Swords, knives, etc., should be made from soft, flexible material.

Applying face paint or cosmetics directly to the face is safer than loose-fitting masks that can obstruct a child's vision.

Dress children in shoes that fit. Mom's heels or Dad's work boots are not safe for trick-or-treaters.

Decorate costumes, bags and sacks with reflective tape.

Use fire-resistant material for all homemade costumes.

Use flashlights while trick-or-treating.

If your child attends day care, ask your provider if there will be a party and if costumes are appropriate. If there will be a party, remember these rules:

Again, masks are a hazard if they obstruct vision. They can also be frightening for young children.

Costumes that drag on the floor or that are too elaborate create problems that a provider just does not have time for. Consider one of the new, light pajama-like costumes. The child can enjoy it as sleepwear for a long time afterward.

It is not a good idea to bring a bag of old makeup to day care to have your child be made up by the provider. That's a thing to be done at home.

Party snacks can be a helpful addition to a party, especially when most of the baking and organizing must be left to the day-care provider, but ask before you bring: Some forbid anyone but the provider to bring food into a day-care home unless it is "store-bought," wrapped and sealed.

Good snacks include pretzels, popcorn, decorated bakery cookies, a bag of apples and a bottle of fresh fruit juice.

It is always a good idea to bring a change of clothes on Halloween. Children easily tire of wearing a costume. Often they can't nap in it, and it could be ruined in a few hours.

_ Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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