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October 24, 2011

Safety Monday

For many, Halloween is a fun time for trick-or-treating, parties and dressing up in costumes. Be sure to make the most of these opportunities this year by incorporating healthy eating, physical activity and safety into your Halloween celebrations!

Trick-or-treat safely by ensuring children walk in groups or with a trusted adult. Always carry a flashlight, walk on sidewalks, use crosswalks and look both ways before crossing streets.

Have kids wear reflective tape and well-fitting costumes (flame-resistant), masks and shoes. Avoid wearing costumes that limit a child's ability to see where he or she is going. Any costume accessories such as knives or swords, should be made of soft, reflexible materials like foam or plastic. Avoid wearing decorative contact lenses. When applying make-up, test a small area on the skin first and make sure to remove it before bedtime.

Teach kids about healthy eating by devising a healthy-in-moderation plan that defines when and how many treats may be eaten. Don't make treats forbidden, but stick to only a few pieces per day. Consider donating extra candy received to overseas troops (Operation Gratitude, Any Soldier, Operation Shoebox, etc.), local nursing homes, veteran's centers, food shelters, or pediatric wards. Also, feed your kids a well-rounded meal before they debark on trick-or-treat night so they won't have the urge to overindulge that evening.

Have children wait until they're home before digging into their goodie bags so that an adult can inspect all treats for choking or tampering hazards. Only allow children to eat commercially-wrapped treats that are free of tears, pinholes and discoloration.

Instead of passing out treats high in calories, fat and sugar to trick-or-treaters, consider stocking up on healthier treats, such as:

Even better than food-related treats, pass out non-food treats such as playing cards or stickers. When decorating, keep luminaries and jack-o'-lanterns away from doorsteps, walkways, curtains and landings. Keep them away from small children and pets, and never leave them unattended.

For more tips on having fun, healthy and safe Halloweens, visit http://www.cdc.gov/family/halloween/ and http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/food/nutrition/nutrition/life_stages/hgic4112.html.

Every Monday, the Johns Hopkins Healthy Monday Project, part of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, offers tips for preventing disease and injury, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Check back each week for new tips or visit our archive.