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New York City Seal
Press Release
NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene
Office of Communications
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Sandra Mullin/Andrew Tucker
Monday, October 28, 2002
(212) 788-5290
(877) 640-1347

TRICK OR TREAT:
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE ISSUES HALLOWEEN SAFETY TIPS


New York City Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, today reminded parents and caregivers of safety tips to make Halloween both safe and fun for New York City's youngsters.

Dr. Frieden said, "Halloween is one of the most enjoyable days of the year for the City's children, but parents and caregivers must be involved to ensure that Halloween is both safe and fun. Trick-or-treaters need adult supervision – even if they travel in groups. Adults should also examine Halloween goodies before children eat them, and make sure that children never eat open or unwrapped Halloween foods."

Dr. Frieden also gave parents and caregivers additional safety tips:

  • An adult should always examine Halloween treats before children eat them. Never eat open or unwrapped Halloween foods.
  • Costumes should be flame-retardant and should allow children to walk freely without tripping. Children's ability to see, hear, and move should not be impaired by unwieldy masks.
  • Make certain that any face paint or make-up used on skin or costumes is non-toxic.
  • Extra care should be taken on streets and at crossings, especially at dusk and after dark.
  • As always, children should be cautioned to avoid strangers, as well as poorly-lit areas and homes of people they do not know.

Robert S. Hoffman, M.D., Director of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's (DOHMH) Poison Control Center, emphasized that Halloween treats should only be consumed if they are packaged appropriately. "Most Halloween accidents are preventable. Parents can help protect their children by making sure that treats are wrapped in their original, unbroken packages – no loose candy, open glasses or bottles, fresh fruit, or homemade goods.

"If after eating a Halloween treat there is evidence that it may have been tampered with, or it has a strange taste, or if a child feels sick, parents or guardians can call the Poison Control Center at (212) POISONS or a medical provider. The Poison Control Center is open 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year, for emergencies and advice."

DOHMH also offers the following suggestions to parents to encourage more nutritious Halloween snacking:

  • Discuss in advance how Halloween candy will be stored and how quickly it should be eaten.
  • Make sure that children eat a filling meal before the Halloween festivities begin, and keep nutritious snacks (e.g., apples, carrot sticks, or raisins) on hand throughout the holiday.
  • Offer healthy goodies to trick-or-treaters, such as individually wrapped packages of dried fruits, and lower-fat treats such as individually wrapped packages of pretzels, ginger snaps, graham crackers, and vanilla wafers.
  • Organize activities at home or school where there is more control over the types of snacks available.

"Healthy eating does not preclude one from indulging one's sweet tooth on Halloween, " Dr. Frieden noted. "Children who see how treats such as Halloween candy fit into an overall diet emphasizing nutritious and lower-fat foods learn moderation. Children who have a moderate, balanced diet inclusive of all kinds of food are less likely to eat an overabundance of unhealthy junk food."

For questions, concerns, and information, the New York City Poison Control Center can be reached by calling a new national number established to create immediate access to the nation's 65 local poison centers through one national number, 1-800-222-1222. New Yorkers can still reach the Poison Control Center through the original phone numbers: (212) POISONS (764-7667), (212) VENENOS (836-3667) for Spanish speakers, and (212) 689-9014 for TDD users.

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