Protecting your trick-or-treaters: Safety tips for Halloween

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Halloween is supposed to be a holiday scary in a fun way, not actually dangerous for kids, but every year, emergency rooms see injured kids and police and firefighters rush to emergency calls. Before your kids head out the door, there are some serious dangers you need to be aware of.

The Billick household is more than ready for Halloween. J.T. and Charlie have their costumes ready to go, and their mom, Eleni, has her trick-or-treating game plan in place.

"We don't wear masks. We'll do everything but masks," Eleni says, "and we'll take lights and reflectors and just walk around before it gets dark.

"Halloween brings a lot of fun and excitement to families, but it's also a dangerous time of year," says Janet Brooks, child advocacy manager at Primary Children's Medical Center.

Brooks says a plan like the Billicks' is important because auto-pedestrian accidents are the biggest danger for children on Halloween; but that's not the only one.

Jack-o'-lanterns lit up with candles can quickly send a costume up in flames. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says costumes should be flame-resistant, which means they should self-extinguish. Still, many are not.

"They heard some shouting and screaming; turns out this boy's gown from his costume was very drapey, from a Harry Potter costume, caught fire, and he was wearing a mask and he touched his face and wound up with very deep burns to his hands and his face," burn and trauma surgeon Dr. Philip Fidler said of one case he treated. "He was in the hospital for many months. He required a dozen operations."

Sandy police say you can never be too careful when your children are running door to door. They say you should check for registered sex offenders in your neighborhood.

"If you're going to send your kids out and pretty much allow them to knock on door to door, it's pretty wise to know exactly whose homes they're going to," says Sandy police Sgt. Troy Arnold.

Once your kids come back with a bag full of candy, doctors say you should carefully examine each piece. Also be aware of any allergies your children may have.

If you want to have your child's candy X-rayed, Hill Air Force Base will do it for you. As part of the base's annual Pumpkin Patrol on Halloween night, parents can bring their child's candy to the Youth Center, Building 883 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for the X-ray.


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Jennifer Stagg


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