Halloween meant to be spooky? Absolutely. But too often "boo" gives way to "boo hoo," as trick-or-treaters sustain cuts, scrapes, and other injuries big and small.
Here are 10 dumb ways parents can wind up in the emergency room with an injured child on Oct. 31...
Dumb: Saying OK to any old costume
Why insist that kids wear bright, reflective clothing on Halloween? Because there are cars around, and kids aren't always so good about keeping out of their way. That's why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and candy bags.
What's more, the academy says shoes worn on Halloween should fit well and that costumes should be "short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement, or contact with flame." When buying a costume, mask, beard, or wig, look for a label reading "flame resistant," says the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Dumb: Saying yes to decorative contact lenses
Decorative contacts can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye infections - and possibly permanent vision loss. Don't be snookered into believing claims like "one size fits all" or "no need to see an eye specialist," says the American Academy of Pediatricians.
Dumb: Letting kids carve the pumpkin
Letting kids wield the knife boosts their self-esteem and eye-hand coordination, right? Maybe so. But it also raises the risk that someone is going to get a nasty cut. A 2006 study published in the journal Pediatrics showed that Halloween is among the top three of all holidays for ER visits - and finger/hand injuries, many from cuts, accounted for 17.6 percent of all injuries.
"In general, children should not carve pumpkins," the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons said in a written statement - unless it's with carving devices designed especially for kids.
Dumb: Failing to check candy for tampering
Razor blades in apples are so rare that it makes no sense to waste time checking the treats kids bring home, right? Wrong. The American Academy of Pediatricians acknowledges that tampering is rare but says it's best for a responsible adult should closely examine all treats trick-or-treaters bring home - and discard spoiled, unwrapped, or suspicious items. The CDC recommends avoiding homemade treats made by strangers.
Dumb: Sticking with a candle for your pumpkin
Want to start a fire on Halloween? Use an open flame to illuminate your pumpkin, and stick the pumpkin someplace wobbly and near curtains. Then leave it unattended. Actually, the American Academy of Pediatrics says to consider lighting your pumpkin with a flashlight or glow stick. If you insist on a candle, use a votive - and display it on a sturdy table away from flammable objects.
Credit: Flickr/Raul Isado
Dumb: Letting kids wander anywhere
Some parents wind up in the ER on Halloween because they fail to supervise trick-or-treaters as they make their rounds. A parent or other responsible adult should always accompany young kids, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. If older children are going alone, it's best to review the route with them beforehand to make sure it is acceptable to you. Be sure to agree on a time by which they'll return home.
Accompanied or unaccompanied, kids should stick together in a group, stay on sidewalks and avoid crossing yards or going down alleys, and cross streets only at crosswalks. Going inside a stranger's home to accept a treat? Forgeddaboudit.
Credit: Flickr/Joe Shlabotnik
Dumb: Forgetting the flashlight
The CDC recommends holding a flashlight while trick-or-treating - to make it easier to see and be seen. And, says the CDC, it's best to walk rather than run from house to house - no matter how good the visibility, and no matter how excited kids are.
Credit: Flickr/Wesley Fryer
Dumb: Insisting on realistic props
Kid's costume calls for a sword or knife? The CDC recommends swords and knives be short, soft, and flexible.
Dumb: Not testing make-up
Halloween make-up can cause skin and eye irritation. The CDC recommends testing it in a small area first - and removing it before bedtime.
Dumb: Dousing the lights
Darkness adds to the spookiness, so it's best to keep lights out in your yard and on your porch. That's what some people seem to think. In fact, darkness can cause trick-or-treaters to trip over obstacles and hurt themselves. The American Academy of Pediatricians urges parents to check outdoor lights and places burned-out bulbs - and remove from the porch and front yard garden hoses, toys, bikes, lawn decorations, and any other items that might post a tripping hazard.
Dumb: Unleashing your dog
Keeping your dog indoors or in an outdoor pen means he/she is less likely to jump up on or bite an unsuspecting trick-or-treater. Where's the fun in that?
Dumb: Failing to protect against allergies
Make-up isn't the only Halloween accoutrement that can cause allergies. The American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology warns against allergens gummy bears and other seemingly innocent treats and along with nickel in belt buckles and other costume accessories. Thinking of renting a fog machine? Be aware that fog - real or man-made - can trigger asthma in some people.