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Consumer Alert

Safety tips for Halloween trick-or-treating

You’d think consumers wouldn’t need advice about Halloween. But once the holiday comes, it usually becomes clear that plenty of people could have benefited from some.

I like to warn parents about the perils of not only this holiday, but about also cheap, junky products in general. That includes the annual reference to the little Halloween flashlight someone gave my son a few years back that caught fire. Not only have I written extensively of the dangers of poorly made gadgets (as well as toys and clothing), I’ve also had to extinguish one myself.

When it comes to Halloween safety, apply some common sense. The idea is to avoid having your children injured or worse. Here are some tips to consider:

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Don’t let your kids wear costumes that are so long they’ll step on them.

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Go for a light-colored costume. If dark ends up being the motif, consider the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s tip of using reflective tape as trim or the American Academy of Pediatrics’ idea of using the tape on bags that hold the goodies.

Have your kids carry flashlights as they go trick or treating.

Accompany children and make sure they use the sidewalks (when there are sidewalks).

Tell the children they may not enter someone’s home unless they are with you or another adult who is escorting them.

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In addition, the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary recommends avoiding masks or other gear that blocks peripheral vision. Consider instead hypoallergenic makeup. And, the hospital recommends, avoid wearing contact lenses that are not prescribed by a doctor.

When it comes to the treats themselves, the state Office of Consumer Affairs suggests parents give them a once over to look for any signs of tampering. And avoid any homemade treats unless they were given to you by someone you know well.

Halloween ought to be a time of spooky fun, not scary reality. A small dose of caution will go a long way toward avoiding really frightening places like the emergency room.

Mitch Lipka has been helping consumers out of jams for the past two decades. He lives in Worcester and also writes the Consumer Alert blog on Boston.com. Mitch can be reached at ConsumerNews@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @mitchlipka.