By Michael D. Pattison, Occupational Vision OptometristOctober 1, 2012
Every Halloween there is an assortment of ghosts, pirates, super heroes and ballerinas running about with one of two things in mind--getting candy or going to parties.
Roaming dimly lit neighborhoods is part of the fun for children, but it can also be dangerous. Studies show that the risk of a child getting injured as a result of being hit by a car doubles on that one night. And for adults, having the best costume and enjoying parties is just as fun. Halloween safety relies on seeing and being seen and both are important.
By following some simple rules when thinking about what to wear this Halloween, everyone can have a night of happy and safe trick-or-treating.
• Children and adults walking around should wear light-colored costumes or stick reflective tape to the costume so that they are visible to passing cars.
• If possible, do not use masks that get in the way of clear vision or block side vision and increase the risk of tripping or running into objects. If the mask is important, consider taking it off to move from house to house.
• Hypoallergenic make-up is safer, but be careful to keep all make-up away from the eyes. If you need to go close, use only products approved for use around the eyes.
• Avoid using sharp items such as swords, knives or wands as part of the costume. Use only items that are soft and flexible. If necessary, use a belt carrier or scabbard so that your child does not have to move from house to house with the object out.
• Use flashlights or light sticks while walking around in the dark.
• Remember that drivers may be in costume and may have trouble seeing you, so do not trust them to stop for you. Remember to look both ways before crossing the street and walk, not run, while crossing.
• No trick-or-treaters should go by themselves. They should only go to houses that have a porch light on. Similarly, remember to turn on your light if you are passing out treats.
• Avoid using cosmetic contact lenses since the majority of them affect your ability to see in the dark. If you feel you must use them, make certain that they are properly fit and that you know how to take care of them.
• Finally, if out late trick-or-treating or partying, always remember to drink in moderation and, if you have had a few too many, do not drive. If you are walking, the later you are out the greater the chance that drivers have been drinking, so be even more cautious. In short, do not trust anyone other than yourself to do the right thing.
Have fun with all of the costumes, the candy and the parties but do not forget to do so safely so that nothing scary happens to you or your children.