xx Tuesday, October 29, 1998

Trick-or-treat tips

Keeping the kids safe this Halloween

By SHELLY DECKER -- Edmonton Sun

  Kids' safety shouldn't be part of Halloween scares.

That means parents need to be vigilant when it comes to their little ones heading out to collect a bucket full of treats, says Marci Mazurenko, projects assistant for Safe Kids in Edmonton.

With the big night falling on a Saturday, that may raise a few more concerns than in past years. Traffic will likely be higher as people head off to parties, she said.

"Kids get excited and forget the usual safety precautions they've been taught. They're rushing to the next house,'' says Mazurenko.

And if the warm weather continues, kids may collect candy longer than usual since it's not a school night.

That's why heading indoors for parties is an excellent option. Instead of braving the streets, take kids to organized parties such as at Westmount Shopping Centre, which, along with Edmonton Pride Events, is hosting a Howling Halloween bash from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Clowns, a magic show and treats are on the agenda. Check with your local mall to see if they're hosting an event.

"You don't have to worry about watching for vehicles. That's a huge thing,'' says Mazurenko. "Plus, you don't have to worry about getting cold.''

Mazurenko says whether kids head inside or outdoors, parents should work out a candy-eating arrangement before Saturday. Children need to understand it isn't a free-for-all where they can eat as much candy as they want till it's gone. That prevents temper tantrums and stops kids from consuming too much junk.

Don't forget to talk to your kids to ensure they know the importance of not eating candy until it's been scrutinized by a parent, she adds. If you don't think they can wait that long, take a few treats in your pocket to quell temptation.

If someone does drop fruit into your youngster's bag, Mazurenko says it's up to you to look it over. "Personally, myself, I would chuck it,'' she says.

And if you're about to buy treats for sugar-hungry kids at your doors, avoid any item with peanuts. An allergy to the snack - found in numerous chocolate bars - can be deadly for some kids.