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Gundersen Health System offers tips for a healthy and safe Halloween

Fri, Oct 18th, 2013
Posted in All Health & Wellness

Halloween is an exciting holiday for children, but since it’s high season for candy, it can also be an frustrating time for parents who encourage kids to eat healthy foods and make sweets a limited part of a balanced and nutritious diet.

Valerie Pampuch, RD, registered dietitian at Gundersen Health System, offers the following suggestions to make your family’s Halloween a healthier experience:

•Never allow your child to eat homemade treats unless you know and trust the person that made them.

•Be cautious of allergens; peanuts are in a lot of treats!

•Account for the extra sugar your child will be consuming and limit other sources of sugars like juices... Too much sugar can lead to stomach aches and parental headaches.

•Practice moderation. Have your child pick a select amount of their favorite candies, and let this be the limit for the night.

•Chose a healthier treat option or give a toy instead.

•Don’t let the candy linger in your house for too long. Give it or throw it away!

Halloween can also be a dangerous time if trick-or-treaters, parents and those handing out treats aren’t careful. “We all need to pay special attention to what is going on around us and make sure safety is at the front of our minds,” comments Valerie.

She has the following safety suggestions for parents and children:

•Plan costumes that are bright, reflective and non-flammable. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping.

•Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider using non-toxic makeup and decorative hats that fit properly.

•Obtain glow sticks or flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and escorts.

•Always trick-or-treat with an adult until at least age 10.

•Never trick-or-treat alone. If an older child is going without a parent, make sure they have at least one friend with them. Help them plan and review a route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.

•Teach children how to call 9-1-1 if they have an emergency or get lost.

•Only go to homes that have a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.

•Only cross the street as a group in an established crosswalk. Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.

•Make eye contact with drivers and watch for cars that are turning or backing up.

•When driving, reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and pedestrians. Also be sure to take extra time to actively look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.

“Besides the parents and kids who are out trick-or-treating, it is also important for those who are handing out treats at their home to keep some safety tips in mind,” suggests Valerie. “Make sure to keep homes safe for trick-or-treaters by clearing the sidewalks and front lawns of items that kids could trip over such as lawn decorations, toys and garden hoses. Also make sure your outdoor lights work and are bright enough for kids and parents to see. Finally, restrain your pets, especially dogs, so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.”

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