Don’t get tricked: Follow key safety tips
Submitted by the New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection
For this week’s “Tuesday’s Tips,” the New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection reminds New Yorkers to stay safe during Halloween activities with health, treat, costume, décor and traffic safety tips.
“Between choosing a creative costume, decorating pumpkins, and all the excitement that comes with trick-or-treating, Halloween is a thrilling time of the year for kids, parents, guardians, and extended family,” Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said. “As trick-or-treaters gear up for spooky fun, the safety of New Yorkers is always the No. 1 priority. Through these tips from our consumer protection team, we can help to ensure that Halloween festivities come with no tricks and only treats.”
Children and adults can celebrate this traditional festivity and enjoy the activities by following these tips:
√ Be aware of any food allergies your child might have, and avoid accepting candy that might not have proper labels, are repacked or homemade.
√ Have an honest conversation and set expectations on what a healthy amount of sweetness your child can eat from trick or treating. Consider spacing the consumption of treats over several days for long-lasting enjoyment.
√ Talk about donating or trading some of the candy. Many hospitals have Halloween candy exchange activities during the month of October.
√ Examine any toys or small items for young children under 3 years of age. Pay attention to small parts or items that can detach that may pose a choking hazard.
√ Examine all treats. Although instances are rare, be aware of the possibility of tampering. Any treats that are unwrapped, unsealed, repacked, mislabeled or seem suspicious should be thrown away.
√ Look for fabrics labeled “flame resistant,” such as nylon or polyester, when purchasing costumes, beards, wigs and masks. Flame-resistant materials are not flameproof, but they will resist burning and can be extinguished quickly.
√ Purchase or make costumes that are light-colored, bright and clearly visible to motorists. Dark-colored costumes are hard to see at night. Costumes should also have adequate ventilation, have eye holes large enough to allow full vision, and should not limit hearing.
√ Be wary of costume contact lenses. The Federal Trade Commission previously warned that selling contact lenses – even cosmetic contacts – is illegal to consumers without a prescription, as these items should be purchased only if medically necessary.
√ If purchasing costumes online, be cautious of scammers pretending to be legitimate online sellers, either with a fake website or a fake ad on a genuine retailer site or social media. For safe online shopping tips, check out our consumer alert.
√ While shopping at seasonal Halloween pop-up shops, always check the return policy and be sure to understand the store's policies before making a purchase. Ask if they will be operational after the holiday; if not, inquire how long they plan to stay open and if they will accept returns after Oct. 31.
√ Pumpkin carving is a fun activity, but it only takes a few seconds for an injury to occur. Remember to leave the carving to adults, and never let kids do the actual carving. Instead, for pumpkin carving safety, have them draw the pattern and clean out the pulp and seeds after.
√ Use battery operated tea-lights, LED lights or glow sticks instead of an open flame candle for your jack-o-lanterns. If using a candle, keep your decorated jack-o-lanterns away from curtains, decorations or other flammable objects that could be ignited. Do not leave an open flame candle unattended.
√ Keep any candles or jack-o-lanterns away from landings or doorsteps where costumes could brush against the flames, and place them on a sturdy table.
√ Young children should be accompanied by an adult while trick-or-treating. If children will be trick-or-treating on their own, consider safety rules like staying with a group, reviewing their route, safety check-ins and agreeing on a time to return home.
√ Local governments may have curfews, designated hours or other rules relating to trick-or-treating, so make sure you are aware of any restrictions and communicate them clearly to children.
√ Use reflective tape as a trim for costumes, outerwear and even treat bags to make them visible to motorists at dusk and in the dark. Reflective tape is found in hardware, bicycle and sporting goods stores.
√ Cross the street on corners, use crosswalks and adhere to traffic signals.
√ Teach children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of a motorist.
√ Walk on sidewalks or paths and, if there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far left as possible.
√ Put electronics down, keep your head up and walk (don’t run) while crossing the street.
√ Be careful when passing stopped vehicles. They may be stopping to let trick-or-treaters cross the road or unloading passengers. The visibility of trick-or-treaters and other pedestrians may be obstructed.
√ Always look out for pedestrians, especially before turning at a green light or making a “right turn on red.”
Mark J.F. Schroeder, commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles and chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, said “The best way for everyone to enjoy Halloween is to take simple measures to stay safe. If trick or treating, your child should be visible, accompanied by an adult and cross at crosswalks. Drivers should use extra caution, stay at or below the speed limit, and be mindful that there will be more pedestrians out than usual – so exercise due care when driving.”
“We want New Yorkers to have a safe and healthy Halloween, so it’s important everyone, especially those with children, review these safety tips from New York’s Department of State,” State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. “Simple steps like checking candy after trick-or-treating, and keeping an eye out for trick-or-treaters while driving, will help keep everyone safe on Halloween.”
About the New York State Division of Consumer Protection
The New York State Division of Consumer Protection provides resources and education materials to consumers, as well as voluntary mediation services between consumers and businesses. The consumer assistance helpline (1-800-697-1220) is available from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, excluding state holidays. Consumer complaints can be filed at any time at www.dos.ny.gov/consumer-protection. For other consumer protection tips and consumer alerts, consumers can follow the New York Department of State on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and check in every Tuesday for more practical tips that educate and empower consumers on a variety of topics. Sign up to receive consumer alerts directly to an email or phone here.