Halloween tips can mean more fun for trick-or-treaters
BY JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Monday, October 29, 2012
10/29/12 at 4:36 AM
Last Halloween, Dr. Michael Baxter's daughter was Glinda the Good Witch from "The Wizard of Oz."
Baxter, per his daughter's request, was the Wicked Witch.
"I went green-faced, carrying a broom and all," said Baxter, whose family picked a "Star Wars" theme this year. He'll be Obi-Wan Kenobi, and his wife will be Princess Padme, mother of Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker.
Their daughter will be "Princess Darth Vader," Baxter said, complete with pink dress and pink Vader mask, plus veil - pink, of course.
As you probably guessed, they will be trick-or-treating Halloween night, for which Baxter and others shared safety tips for families going out in costume Wednesday.
Parents should consider picking bright colors or apply reflective tape to their kids' costumes so that drivers can see them better at night, Baxter said. You can also decorate their bags and plastic pumpkins with reflective tape.
Be sure to choose an age-appropriate costume, Baxter said - one that fits, as a mask that's too big can limit vision, which is especially dangerous when crossing streets. Masks can be cumbersome, and an ill-fitting one can lead to injury.
For added safety, use face paint instead of masks, suggested parenting blogger Robert Nickell, the founder and CEO of DaddyScrubs delivery room duds and gear for expectant and new dads (see tulsaworld.com/daddyscrubs).
Attach a flashlight or glow stick to each child's costume, and have an adult carry a flashlight, Nickell shared in his recent Halloween-themed email.
"Most Halloween costumes are dark and not easily seen by cars," he said.
Ensure the costume is made of flame-retardant material, said Gail O'Connor, injury prevention coordinator of St. John Trauma Services. O'Connor compiled a list of trick-or-treating safety tips that can be found at tulsaworld.com/stjohnhweentips
Also make sure the costume is short enough so that your child's feet don't tangle in the fabric and cause a fall, O'Connor said. And any costume accessories like pirates' swords or knives should to be made of soft, flexible material or cardboard so your child or other children are not injured if they fall.
Before they even leave the house, remind children to look both ways before crossing a street - "stop, look, listen," Baxter said.
Children should walk on the sidewalks and out of roadways, O'Connor wrote in her list.
"If a sidewalk is not available, they should walk on their left side of the road, facing on-coming traffic and close to the curb," she said. This increases their visibility to drivers.
An adult - or multiple adults if you have more than two trick-or-treaters - should accompany school-age children, he continued. You can't expect one adult to keep track of two or three toddlers.
Tell your kids never to enter a stranger's home.
"No matter how enticing the decorations look, no matter how yummy the treats, never enter a house of someone you don't know," Nickell said. If someone invites you inside to see spooky decorations, kindly accept their invitation for another time.
Only ring the doorbells of homes that have lights on and look to be participating in Halloween, Nickell said.
Make sure older, unaccompanied kids have a cellphone in a secure spot in their costumes, he continued. "Encourage them to check in occasionally, and call them if they miss a checkpoint."
Have adults exchange numbers so they can keep up with one another when going out in groups, Baxter said.
Prep your home
Those staying home to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters should make sure paths from the sidewalk to the door are clear of leaves, garden hoses or other things that might cause kids to trip, Baxter said.
If you have Halloween decorations that require extension cords, make sure those are secure, said Russ Weaver, department supervisor at a Home Depot in south Tulsa, in a recent Tulsa World story on safe decorating.
You can make your decor scary, Baxter said, but make sure it's well-lit.
Weaver suggested using lights in Halloween colors to line the path to your door.
When lighting jack-o- lanterns, use small candles or, safer still, battery-operated ones made for outdoors, Weaver said.
Have pets? Put them somewhere safe inside so they won't be frightened, and so kids won't be frightened of them, Baxter said.
As the sun sets and twilight begins, it's especially difficult to see children in dark clothing, warned Gail O'Connor, injury prevention coordinator of St. John Trauma Services.
Watch for children walking on the road, in medians and on curbs.
"Headlights are helpful, but staying alert to the activity in the area is essential," she said.
Also, motorists should pay special attention to the streets and watch for children who dart between cars or cross the street in the middle of the block, O'Connor said.
"This is especially important since they sometimes forget to look both ways and cross only at the corner or crosswalk."
For more Halloween safety tips from O'Connor, check out tulsaworld.com/stjohnhweentips
Do's and don'ts of candy-eating
The dental experts at Lowenberg Lituchy & Kantor in New York ranked candy from best (1) to worst (5) when it comes to your teeth.
1. Sugarless gum and candy that contain xylitol. Xylitol actually protects a child's teeth by reducing the acids produced by bacteria and increasing the salivary fluids that rinse away excess sugars and acids. Chewing gum and candy that contain xylitol can actually act as the first line of defense in preventing cavities.
2. Powdery candy. If Pixy Stix or SweetTarts are among your favorites, then you're in luck. Pour the sugar directly on the tongue so it avoids touching your teeth. This leaves nothing for the cavity-causing bacteria to feed on. Powdery candy also dissolves quickly and doesn't stay around to cause cavities.
3. Chocolate. Chocolate, such as Hershey's Kisses, contains cocoa, which inhibits the growth of the bacteria that is responsible for the creation of plaque.
4. Sticky and chewy sweets. Treats like Twix and Snickers bars are on the list to avoid because these candies get stuck in the pits and grooves in the teeth and make it nearly impossible for saliva to wash it away.
Gummy bears, jelly beans and taffy also get stuck in between teeth. As the sugar remains on the teeth, the decay-causing bacteria go to town on your teeth.
5. Hard candy. Lollipops and other hard candy are among the worst candy to consume because they take the longest to dissolve.
The longer the candy remains on your teeth, the longer the bacteria that cause cavities can start to decay the teeth.
Original Print Headline: Tips, tricks for treaters
Jason Ashley Wright 918-581-8483
A family enjoys the annual BooHaHa events dressed in bee outfits on Brookside in 2011. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World