Halloween costume tips: Keep them scary -- and safe

Consumer Reports News: October 06, 2006 05:33 PM

With less than a month to go until Halloween, chances are you've already begun planning your child's costume. However, before buying that long wizard's cape or putting together that clever homemade mummy outfit, take some time to think about safety. After all, the leading danger on Halloween isn't tainted candy; it's the risk of tiny pedestrians falling over their costumes -- or getting hit by cars that fail to see them in their dark cloaks and gowns. Costume flammability is also an issue: Jack-o-lanterns, candles and other flickering flames may add to the eerie spirit of the night, but they also pose a major risk to young revelers. Follow these tips as you make your plans -- and watch this space in the coming weeks for more tips for safe trick-or-treating.

  1. Carefully consider the costume's flammability and opt for material that won't easily go up in flames. In other words, if you want to be a mummy, don't use toilet paper, paper towels or gauze. Other fire hazards include big, baggy sleeves, trailing cloaks and billowing skirts. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends purchasing costumes, beards, masks, and wigs that have the "Flame Resistant" label.
  2. Make sure the costume is short enough so children won't trip and fall.
  3. Don't overlook the shoes; they should be sturdy and fit well. Mom's high heels may look great but if they're wobbly and unsteady -- in other words, easy to trip over -- consider something more well-grounded.
  4. Wear light-colored or bright garments to be visible to motorists.
  5. If a sword, cane, or stick is part of a costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. Better yet: skip the sticks entirely. These accessories can easily cause injuries -- including serious eye injuries.
  6. Use facial make-up, instead of masks, to keep vision unobstructed.
  7. Decorate or trim the costume -- and accessories, including trick-or-treat bags or sacks as well -- with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car's headlights.
  8. Make a flashlight part of the costume -- to help trick-or-treaters see easily as well as aid them in being seen.

Marc Perton

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