HALLOWEEN COSTUME SAFETY TIPS
Although it’s been a warm October, the signs of fall are certainly around us. The leaves on the trees are turning, haunted houses are popping up. There’s a nip in the air, pumpkin patches are in full swing and children’s Halloween costumes are being planned. We wanted to offer a few tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday for you and your family.
Does your costume block your vision?
Masks, wigs and eye patches may make an outfit complete, but make sure these accessories don’t significantly obstruct your field of view. Some masks are very dangerous for children because they block their side vision and can cause a trip hazard. A better, safer option is to decorate your child’s face with face paint or makeup.
Avoid over the counter decorative contact lenses.
Don’t buy or wear decorative contact lenses that have not been prescribed by an eye doctor. The decorative lenses make the wearer’s eyes appear to glow in the dark, create the illusion of vertical “cat eyes,” or change the wearer’s eye color. These lenses are particularly popular for teens.
Despite the fact that it’s illegal to sell decorative contact lenses without a valid prescription, the FDA says the lenses are sold on the Internet and in retail shops and salons. Decorative lenses from unlicensed manufacturers may be made from inferior plastic or may contain toxic dyes. In addition, untrained individuals may not follow proper hygiene in inserting or removing the devices. Eye infections related to improper wearing and handling of contact lenses can rapidly develop into corneal ulcers, which can cause permanent blindness.
Say NO to long costumes.
Long costumes can cause a trip hazard. Be sure your child’s costume ends above their ankles to avoid a trip hazard. Use well-fitting shoes or boots for safe walking. Make sure your child’s costume is flame resistant and avoid baggy, billowing skirts and cloaks that might brush against a candle-lit jack-o’-lantern or luminary.
Use FDA approved makeup.
If you decide to disguise your child with makeup instead of a mask, use hypo-allergenic options and keep it away from the eyes. Make sure that any color additives to the face paint are FDA approved (check the Summary of Additives on the FDA website). When applying makeup near or around the eye, stay away from the lid margin, or lash line—the area where you would normally apply eyeliner. If you are applying make-up very close to the eye, use only products approved for use in that area such as an eye-liner or eyeshadow. Do not use blush or lip-liner to create a “red” effect. It is a good idea to carry a damp towel or washcloth in case the makeup begins to run while trick-or-treating.
Don’t allow sharp objects to be used as props.
Some costumes don’t seem complete without swords or wands. Elementary and nursery schools are very strict in prohibiting these props for school parties. Sharp, pointed props endanger your child’s eyes as well as the eyes of other children. If your child must carry a sword, find a belt carrier or scabbard where the sword can stay safely nestled while the kids roam the neighborhood. Buy or construct only accessories made of soft or flexible materials.
Make sure costumes are reflective.
If the costume your child chooses is not made of reflective material, sew on reflective fabric strips or use stick-on strips of reflective tape. You want your child to be seen, especially crossing streets in the dark. Place reflective material on the front, back and sides of your child’s costume.
Happy haunting….be informed, be safe and have a Happy Halloween.
About the author: John D. Bissell, owner of Bissell Eye Care and Tri-State Low Vision Services, offers comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family, ocular disease detection and treatment, eye glasses, sun glasses, active wear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. He has undergone specialized training for treatment of low vision by the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists utilizing customized telescopic eyeglasses, prisms and telescopic implants for patients who qualify. The practice accepts most types of vision and health insurance plans.