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Halloween is here and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) wants to remind residents to take safety precautions and practice healthy eating habits.

“Halloween brings fun for the whole family, so, enjoy the day and Halloween treats, but in moderation,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, Med, Director, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. “Halloween is a good time to teach your children to be mindful of their eating habits and safe when walking through the neighborhood. Remind them to slow down and savor the treat, and make sure they carry a flashlight, use crosswalks and watch out for cars. Everyone should be mindful to put electronic devices away, keep their heads up, and walk, don’t run across the street.”

“The spookiest thing about Halloween is the potential harm to children’s teeth as they eat their candy,” said Dr. Maritza Cabezas, Dental Director for Public Health’s Oral Health Program. “For most children this means a chance to build a stockpile of sweets for the rest of the year, which is why we want everyone to be thoughtful about keeping their teeth healthy.”

Some ways you can help your children maintain good oral health during Halloween and year-round are:
– Choose the Correct Time – Eat sugary food with meals or shortly after mealtime. Saliva production increases during meals and helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria and helps rinse away food particles.
– Choose Candy Carefully – Avoid hard candy and other sweets that stay in your mouth for a long time since they subject teeth to an increased risk for cavities.
– Choose Non-Sticky Candies – The stickier candies, like taffy and gummy bears, take longer to get washed away by saliva, since they stick to your teeth, increasing the risk for tooth decay.
– Some Imported candies may have lead. Eating these candies can increase your child’s risk for lead poisoning.

For a list of candies found to have lead, contact the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at 1-800-LA-4-LEAD (1-800-524-5323).

When trick-or-treating, children should walk in groups and with a trusted adult. Carry items like flashlights or glowsticks to help you see and be seen to others. When crossing the street, use designated crosswalks wherever possible and look both ways before crossing the street. If the street has a stop light, wait until the cross walk light indicates that it is safe to cross the street. When you get home, inspect all treats for choking hazards and tampering. Eat only factory-wrapped treats and avoid homemade treats made by strangers. When in doubt, throw it out.

Instead of passing out candy in your own home, you can choose to give trick-or-treaters non-food items, such as slime, stickers, coloring books or other inexpensive novelties. Individual packs of raisins or snack-sized pretzels are healthy alternatives to pass out.

Keep jack-o’-lanterns out of reach of pets and small children, place on a sturdy table and use solar/battery powered lights instead of candles in jack-o’-lanterns unattended. Keep porches, walkways, and stairs well-lit and avoid placing items or decorations that could trip people.

Costumes are the best part of Halloween. Follow these guidelines to keep your child safe:
– Masks, costumes, and shoes should be well-fitted so your child can see, walk, and breathe easily.
– Test a small area of your child’s skin before applying face paint or make-up to make sure they do not have an allergic reaction.
– Accessories such as toy swords, knives, and similar costume items should be short, soft, and flexible.
– Some costume jewelry may be made with lead or decorated with lead paint. Keep young children from sucking on or playing with costume jewelry. Wash your child’s hands if he or she has been touching jewelry.
– Make sure costumes are flame-resistant.
– Avoid wearing decorative contact lenses to reduce the risk of eye injury.
– Remove make-up at the end of the night to prevent possible skin and eye irritation.

For more information on health and safety, please visit www.publichealth.lacounty.gov.

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