Children's Mercy Hospital of Kansas City, Mo., offers these Halloween safety tips for parents and trick-or-treaters:
Feed the children a favorite meal before they head out. They'll be less tempted to overeat the treats they collect.
Give each child a small snack of candy to eat while they're out.
Give each child a small pocket flashlight so they can see and be seen.
Give each child a whistle in case they get separated from the group.
Accompany preschool and elementary-aged trick-or-treaters at all times, but not in a car. Parents who watch their children from a moving car do not always pay close attention to the road.
Remind older children who go trick-or-treating without adult supervision that they should stay in a group.
Establish rules for older trick-or-treaters. Help them plan an acceptable trick-or-treat route. Set limits on the distances they can travel and agree on a time to return home.
Make sure children wear appropriate, safe costumes.
Remind trick-or-treaters that they should only go to houses with porch lights on.
Review basic street safety: Look both ways before crossing the street; don't dart out between parked cars; cross only at designated crosswalks; and obey traffic signals.
Inspect all treats and limit candy consumption. Consider rationing the candy over a period of days and include tooth-brushing in the deal.
Consider alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating, like hosting a party for neighborhood children or visiting a shopping area that has indoor trick-or-treating.
Halloween should be a time for fun and treats. Unfortunately, roughly four times as many children ages 5 to 14 are killed while walking on Halloween evening compared with other evenings of the year, and falls are a leading cause of injuries among children.
Leo Kremer, founder of BeSeenOnHalloween.com, advises parents to pay special attention to the costumes they purchase for their young trick-or-treaters.
Look for costumes with flame-resistant fabrics such as nylon or polyester or the label "flame resistant." Flame-resistant fabrics will resist burning and should extinguish quickly. To minimize the risk of contact with candles and other fire sources, avoid costumes made with flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts.
Purchase or make costumes that are light, bright and clearly visible to motorists.
Decorate or trim costumes with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car's headlights. Bags or sacks also should be light colored or decorated with reflective tape. Reflective tape is usually available in hardware, bicycle and sporting goods stores.
Be sure that costumes fit well and don't drag on the ground to guard against trips and falls.
Tie hats and scarves securely to prevent them from slipping over children's eyes and obstructing vision.
Make sure masks fit securely, provide adequate ventilation and have eye holes large enough to allow full vision.
Check that swords, knives and similar costume accessories are made of soft, flexible material.
For a complete Halloween safety checklist, visit www.BeSeenOnHalloween.com.