Entries in Halloween (16)


Report: Kids Face Highest Risk of Being Hit by Car on Halloween

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If your community hasn't postponed Halloween activities, there's good reason to be extra careful out there Wednesday night.  

A State Farm review of statistics finds children face the highest risk of being fatally struck by a car on this holiday than any other day of the year.  The chances of getting hit are more than twice as high as on an average day.

Researchers also pinpointed the most dangerous hour: between 6 and 7 p.m., the time day turns to night.  

More than 70 percent of accidents happened in the middle of the block, underlining the importance of crossing only at crosswalks.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Seven Halloween Health Hazards

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Fake blood and ghoulish gowns make Halloween a howl, but a few hidden hazards can turn the spooky night downright scary.  Stay safe with these tips:

Pumpkin Carving

Nothing says Halloween like a Jack-O'-Lantern, but pumpkin carving is no craft for young kids, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Instead, let the little ones use markers to draw designs that adults can cut out.  Then go with a glow stick to light it up.  If you opt for a candle, be sure to place the pumpkin on a steady table and never leave it unattended.

Crazy Contact Lenses

Cat-like contacts may look cool, but the over-the-counter lenses aren't worth the risk, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.  The one-size-fits-all lenses can cause serious eye disorders and infections that can lead to blindness.  Only wear contacts that have been prescribed by an eye care professional.

Dark, Dangly Costumes

When choosing a costume, pick something bright or use reflective tape to stay visible after dark.  And make sure it fits -- oversize costumes can turn trick-or-treating into trip-and-falling.  They're also liable to catch fire near an unmanned Jack-O'-Lantern.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends costumes made from flame-resistant fabrics such as polyester and nylon, just in case.

Vision-Obscuring Masks

Whether it's a curb or a car, it's important to see what's coming.  Masks can limit peripheral vision, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Consider using makeup instead, and topping things off with a hat or a wig that fits snuggly and won't slide down.

Irritating Makeup

Makeup can transform smooth skin into open wounds and scary scars, but it can also leave a rash that lingers long after Halloween night.  The FDA suggests testing the makeup on a small patch of skin a couple of days before using it on the face.  And check out the agency's list of approved makeup additives.  If the makeup contains unapproved ingredients, toss it.

Hidden Allergens

Halloween loot can be deadly for someone with a peanut allergy.  The FDA recommends having the candy inspected by an adult who can remove risky treats and anything that isn't commercially wrapped.  Not sure if it contains an allergen?  Get rid of it.

Candy Overload

After collecting a bagful of treats, the trick is to make it last.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends eating a healthy meal before trick-or-treating to avoid snacking on the go.  And then consider rationing sweets for the November days that follow.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Candy Not So Dandy for a Lot of Trick-or-Treaters

Pixland/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With Halloween nearly upon us, the American Dental Association and PopCap Games surveyed children ages 5 to 13 to gauge their feelings about the big day.

Not surprisingly, 94 percent of kids say they go trick-or-treating and two-thirds say it’s their favorite holiday of the year.

The most popular Halloween activities are in this order: trick-or-treating, dressing up in a costume and getting lots of candy.

But in something of a Halloween shocker, nearly eight out of ten youngsters agree that “too much candy is bad for me,” with slightly more girls than boys believing it to be so.  About two out of three admit they eat too much candy during Halloween.

Dentists and parents should take heart in the finding that 89 percent of kids would still enjoy Halloween if it was more about other fun stuff and less about candy.  While this may be wishful thinking on their part, 93 percent say they’d sooner accept a video game than a piece of candy.

Meanwhile, 42 percent of trick-or-treaters say they're concerned about getting cavities from munching on Halloween candy.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Halloween Health Scare: Beware of Black Licorice 

JupiterImages/LiquidLibrary(WASHINGTON) -- As costume-clad kids get ready for a night of trick-or-treating, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a warning for candy-loving grown-ups: Too much black licorice can cause heart problems.

The old-fashioned favorite contains glycyrrhizin, a chemical that can trigger a dangerous drop in potassium levels. When potassium runs low, heart rhythms fluctuate and blood pressure can rise causing swelling, lethargy, even congestive heart failure.

Licorice has long been used as a natural remedy for heartburn, stomach ulcers, sore throat and some infections. Although its healing powers remain unclear, several studies have linked black licorice to heart disease and high blood pressure in people over 40 -- even  if they had no history of these conditions.

So how much is too much? According to the FDA, eating two ounces of black licorice a day for two weeks could land someone in the hospital with a heart arrhythmia.

People with high blood pressure, heart disease or kidney disease are even more susceptible to black licorice’s effects, according to the National Institutes of Health. As few as five grams per day could cause health problems.

The good news is cutting back on black licorice can quickly restore potassium levels.

Avoid eating large amounts of black licorice at a time, and alert your doctor if you notice an irregular heart rhythm or muscle weakness, the FDA said. Black licorice can also interact with some medications and dietary supplements, so talk to your doctor if you eat the sweet regularly.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tips and Tricks for a Healthy Halloween

Pixland/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For parents who are trying to curtail their family’s sugar intake, reduce the health risks associated with a growing obesity problem in our children, or just keep the little ones from bouncing off the walls, Halloween can be a scary holiday.

Rachel Willen, chef and creator of the blog Food Fix, offers her personal experience and tips to create a healthy Halloween that won’t disappoint the kids.  Here are a few tips to help keep your children healthy:

  • Think Salty and Savory: Candy is not the only treat that kids crave. Chips, crackers, popcorn and puffed cheese snacks are all high on the list of treats that kids and teens love, and they can be wholesome and much healthier than candy.
  • Think Refreshing: Last year, Willen says, she used an empty planter she purchased on sale after the season, and filled it with ice and mini bottles of spring water.  Willen says it was surprising how many kids were thrilled to have a cool drink while making their rounds.  With an icy bottle of water and a crunchy snack to add to their “booty,” there were very few cries of “what, no candy?” To keep your refreshing treats healthy, stick to plain water, flavored and enhanced waters that are sweetened with juice or juice concentrates only, or juice boxes that do not contain any added sugars, corn syrup or sugar substitutes. Smaller portion drinks are more practical and economic as a giveaway.
  • Trade In Candy: What should you do with all the candy your kids bring home? Negotiate with them to “trade in” their candy for something that they’ve been wanting: a video game, a pair of jeans, a special dinner or just cash toward a higher priced gadget for which they want to save. You can decide, based on your budget, what amount of bartering you are willing to do. Then, go through the treat bag together, letting them choose a set number of goodies to keep, (a week’s worth or some of their favorites), after which they hand over the rest in exchange for their earned gift. Before you toss the loot, try looking for a dentist or orthodontist in your area who runs a candy trade-in program in his or her office. It’s a sweet solution to handling a scary amount of sugar this Halloween.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Keeping Kids Safe on Halloween

Ryan McVay/Digital Vision(WASHINGTON) -- Parents and their excited ghosts and goblins are gearing up to go trick or treating. This is a time for little ones to have fun, but parents shouldn’t let the kids’ enthusiasm drown out common sense. There are many hazards associated with Halloween. Here are a few tips to help keep your children safe:

  • Make sure children wear bright, reflective costumes when they go trick-or-treating at night. If their costumes blend into the dark, give them glow sticks to carry, or place strips of reflective tape on their costumes or trick-or-treat bags to make sure drivers and others can spot them in the darkness. On average, twice as many children are killed while walking on Halloween as compared to any other day of the year, according to Safe Kids USA, a national child safety advocacy organization.
  • Don’t allow children to wear face paint without testing it first to make sure it doesn’t irritate their skin or trigger allergies.
  • Don’t allow children to wear decorative, non-prescription contact lenses.
  • Make sure store-bought costumes and accessories -- such as wigs, hats and masks -- are flame-retardant. The label should clearly state that. If it doesn’t, don’t buy it.
  • Don’t leave candles burning unattended. According to the National Fire Protection Association, Halloween is one of the top five days for candle fires. Try votive candles instead, and keep jack-o-lanterns away from curtains. Or why not opt for electric lights?  They give all the ghostly glow without the risk of burning the house down or igniting a costume.
  • Don’t let children wear costumes that are too long. They could get caught in car doors or could trail too close to candles.
  • Children who are younger than 12 years old should not be allowed to go trick or treating by themselves.
  • Be sure to examine all your children’s treat for signs of tampering and choking hazards, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions.  Children should not eat homemade treats made by strangers.
  • Don’t let younger children carve pumpkins. Let them draw the outlines onto pumpkins, but leave the carving to an adult.

See other Halloween safety tips from the CDC here.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Halloween Allergies You May Not Have Considered

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- All the Halloween sweet treats, fun costumes, and spooky decorations are fun for parents and kids, but those same holiday staples can be truly frightful when it comes to children's allergies.

Allergy specialists say food allergy triggers are their biggest concern on Halloween, but there are other items that can cause dangerous reactions in children.

"The most common childhood allergies are peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, eggs and milk, and these are certainly in a lot of candies," said Dr. Scott Sicherer, professor of pediatrics at the Jaffe Food Allergy Center at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.

One of the most important things to do is to check what's in the candy. That's especially true, allergists say, if candy or treats don't have ingredients listed on the labels or have no labels at all.

If parents suspect their children may have food allergies, they should avoid any candy or baked goods with unknown ingredients. Children should also be taught to politely decline homemade treats.
Parents should also carry emergency medication with them, such as an epinephrine auto-injector and antihistamines.

The ACAAI considers costumes another potential Halloween hazard.

"Watch out for nickel in costume accessories, from cowboy belts and pirate swords to tiaras and magic wands," the academy warns. "Nickel is one of the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis, which can make skin itchy and spoil trick or treating fun." Parents should also check costume labels in case of latex allergies.
They also recommend washing old Halloween costumes in hot water if they are going to be re-used.     
Kids may be excited about their Halloween transformation into vampires or zombies, but some of the makeup they use could trigger skin allergies.

Face paints should wash off easily, and hypoallergenic makeup is the best option, according to the National Jewish Medical Center.

Children prone to red, itchy skin or eczema should not wear any kind of greasy face paint.

The ACAAI recommends using better-quality theater makeup, and also suggests testing makeup on a small area of skin before Halloween, since it can take a few days for an allergic reaction to occur.

And while fog machines can help create some scary holiday fun, they can also be dangerous for some children.

The chemical can irritate the airway, similar to smoke and other air pollutants.

Finally, although part of the holiday fun is all about the thrill of feeling scared, those emotions can lead to breathing problems in some children. Being out in the cold air and running from house to house can trigger asthma.

But just because some elements of traditional Halloween could bring about respiratory problems, that doesn't mean kids and adults can't have fun as long as they're prepared, experts say.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Halloween Candy at the White House?

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The president and first lady will welcome local children and military families to trick-or-treat at the White House on Saturday.

The North Lawn is already decorated for the occasion, with fake cobwebs lining the drive and pumpkins piled throughout.

As the trick-or-treaters make their way across the lawn to the North Portico, which will be lit orange for the occasion, they will be entertained by the Marine Band playing Halloween music and spooked by actors in costume from Washington-area theaters.

While the president joked earlier in the week that the White House was in danger of being “egged” if the first lady kept handing out fruit on Halloween, it appears they’ve reached a compromise.

Children will receive a box of M&M’s, a White House sweet dough butter cookie made by White House pastry chef Bill Yosses and, of course, a serving of dried fruit.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Police Warn of Marijuana in Halloween Treats

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department wants parents to be on the lookout for marijuana-containing candy that could make its way into children’s trick-or-treat bags.

The department recently confiscated a number of different foods made with the drug from local marijuana dispensaries, including soda, candy and snacks.

While the sheriff’s department didn’t know of anyone who handed out marijuana-containing treats to trick-or-treaters in the past, they wanted people to know the foods were out there and not always easy to spot.

“If it doesn’t have a recognizable label on it,” said Sgt. Glenn Walsh, “if it’s not a recognizable brand, it should be considered at least potentially dangerous to the children.”

Even if items are labeled and indicate marijuana is an ingredient, once the label is removed, it’s difficult to tell the drug is in there.  One possible way to tell that the food contains marijuana is by a pungent odor or an odd taste, Walsh said.

Parents should inspect the candy their children bring home, he advised.  He added that parents should be aware of the signs that kids may have ingested marijuana-laced treats, including disorientation, possible confusion, dilation of the pupils, difficulty breathing, a rapid pulse rate and sweating.

But symptoms can vary, depending on factors such as a child’s weight, the drug’s potency and how much the child ingests.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


From Halloween to Horror Movies, Why We Love to Be Afraid

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For those who like the genre, a good horror movie arouses a cocktail of chemistry in the cerebral cortex -- the part of the brain that controls memory, perception and consciousness.

And it's not just movies, but amusement park rides and even books and fairy tales that can elicit simultaneously both pleasure and gripping fear.

As Oct. 31 approaches, businesses are capitalizing on the psychology of fear -- the spine-tingling sensation and the joy that goes with it.

This year, Americans will spend $6.9 billion on Halloween horror -- costumes, haunted houses and fright fests -- according to the National Retail Federation.

"We don't have many other holidays that are really directly connected to a strong emotion that is almost universal -- fear and the dark side," said Frank Farley, a professor of psychology at Temple University who specializes in thrill-seeking and extreme behavior.

One 2007 study published in Science Daily dispelled earlier assumptions that humans respond to pleasure and avoid pain: "It certainly seems counterintuitive that so many people would voluntarily immerse themselves in almost two hours of fear, disgust and terror.  Why do people pay for this?  How is this enjoyable?" But pay they do: as one example, the third film in the low-budget Paranormal Activity series grossed $54 million over last weekend, making it the highest ever for a film released in October.

Researchers from the University of California and University of Florida concluded what most thrill-seekers know: People can experience both fear and euphoria at the same time.

"Pleasant moments of a particular event may also be the most fearful," it concluded, comparing horror movies to the thrill and fear of extreme sports.

But not everyone likes being scared, according to psychologist Farley, and how a person responds to fear is wired in their personality.  Those who thrive on fear are so-called T-types -- they are thrill-seekers, according to Farley, who coined the term in the 1980s.

"They like uncertainty, suspense, unpredictability, the unknown," he said.  "Uncertainty is the prime source of fear.  You don't know what's going to happen."

Movie makers and amusement park ride creators know how to induce fear.

"There is intensity of stimulation," he said.  "It can be the sound of screams or the visual -- something comes out of nowhere into the face, like a house of horror."

Music is also important, like the pulsating, unforgettable theme of the movie Jaws, heard whenever the great white shark stalked its prey.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio