13 Halloween Safety Tips to Keep Children and Pets Safe

Halloween should be full of spookiness, but all that fright should be fun and not dangerous!

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Halloween Safety Tips for Children

1. Choking hazards: As a rule of thumb, a choking hazard is anything that can pass through a cardboard toilet paper roll unobstructed. Look closely at all the items that you are putting out to display, from bats and ghosts to pumpkins. Hazards lurk everywhere!

2. Flashlights: Child safe flashlights should have a battery door that is secured by a screw to prevent removal of the battery, thus preventing a choking hazard. And use flashlights or electric candles to light up your pumpkin, as flames and kids don’t mix.

3. Halloween lights: Look for Halloween light strings that have tamper resistant bulbs that can’t be removed easily, and remember that cords pose a strangulation hazard. All cords should be kept short and tight. Consider taking the excess that you might leave hanging and bind it up with a zip tie.

4. Pumpkin carving: Remember to only use child safe cutting tools while carving pumpkins, even as an adult. Kids learn by watching you, so if you use real knives you must know that they will want to do the same.

5. Costumes: Costumes should never obstruct movement, never cause visual impairment and never pose a trip hazard. Stick to material that is form fitting. If it’s loose, baggy or long it could create a trip hazard. Avoid masks that can impair vision. Face painting is the safest mask.

6. Glow at night: Make sure your child’s costume is visible or is is equipped with something that makes them visible. Glow sticks are great and kids love them, but remember, never hang anything around their little necks unless you are using a child safe breakaway lanyard. A couple of glow sticks secured to shoes can be seen from a long way away. Flashlights are a good additive as well.

7. Candy: Remember to make sure you go through and check all the candy that you are keeping. The candy should be in name brand with sealed packages. For candy bars, be sure you cut them into small pieces that are easy to chew. This also helps to ensure it hasn’t been tampered with.

Halloween Safety Tips for Pets

1. Pet costumes: Yes, your pet looks absolutely adorable in that costume, but keep in mind that your fuzzy family member might not be as thrilled with the outfit. Feel free to get that amazing photo, but respect the fact that your pet may want to get out of those duds as soon as possible. Make sure the outfit is comfortable, and pay special attention to straps that may impinge upon the neck and areas where the extremities meet the body. Never leave a pet unaccompanied in a costume to avoid any “wardrobe malfunctions!”

2. No chocolate! Most people know chocolate is toxic to their pets. Chocolate contains methyl xanthine, which can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from stomach upset to tremors, hyperthermia and seizures. At high doses, chocolate can lead to collapse and even death. Generally speaking, the darker and more concentrated the chocolate, the more dangerous it can be. There are helpful charts available (for instance, at petMD.com) that can tell you what doses are dangerous for your pooch. If in doubt, contact your veterinarian.

3. Watch out for sugar-free: Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found commonly in sugar-free gum as well as other products, can be extremely toxic to dogs. When ingested, it can cause a significant release of insulin, which can lead to extremely low blood sugars. At high doses, it can also lead to liver failure. If your pup has ingested this substance, it’s best to contact your veterinarian as your pet may need treatment and supportive care.

4. Healthy treat dangers: If you’re offering healthy alternatives this Halloween, keep in mind that grapes and raisins can be extremely toxic to dogs. Some pets are more sensitive than others. In some animals, the toxin can lead to stomach upset initially, followed by kidney failure within 24 hours. It is always prudent to contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested these substances.

5. Burning jack-o’-lanterns: Flames and fur aren’t typically a good combination. Just as you do for your child’s safety, consider replacing that jack-o’-lantern candle with a flickering LED light.

6. Trick-or-treating: During trick-or-treating, it is best to keep your pet inside, safe from all of the scary costumes, noises and lights that may frighten your pooch or feline. And, if you have a black cat, be sure to keep it inside!

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The experts in keeping your little pumpkins safe: Boo Boo Busters: as a leading professional childproofing service, they know a thing or two about keeping your kids safe.                                     

*For your pets: safety tips from Dr. Anthony George, doctor of veterinary medicine and certified veterinary acupuncturist.

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