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BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Halloween is a time for kids to have fun but also a time for parents to guard their children's safety, according to a psychologist at The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). 

"Parents need to think about safety on the roads, safety with pumpkin carving and safety with candy," David Schwebel, director of the UAB Youth Safety Lab, said in a news release from the school on Wednesday. 

Schwebel offers the following safety tips: 

Jack-o'-Lanterns: Older kids can learn to cut jack-o'-lanterns and light candles with adult supervision. Younger kids can scoop out the seeds and draw designs on the pumpkins with a marker. 

Trick-or-Treating: Children should wear light clothing and reflective strips and carry flashlights. They should cross the street only at crosswalks and should look both ways. Children under the age of 10 should be supervised by adults. 

Costumes: Children should not wear costumes that restrict their vision, and parents should make sure that shoes and costumes allow kids to walk safely and comfortably.  Loose, hanging clothing that could catch fire near candles should be avoided. 

Schwebel tells adults not to overdo the scary costumes around younger kids, who can be made anxious by scary, unfamiliar things.

Candy:  Adults should check all candy before kids are allowed to eat it and should discard treats that are not sealed tightly. Fruit should be thrown away, or at least peeled, washed and cut into small pieces to avoid choking hazards for young children. 

Motorists: Drivers should watch closely for children, avoid distractions and drive more slowly than usual. 

The fact that Halloween comes on on a Friday night this year can create an additional hazard, according to Schwebel. "Because school isn't in session the following day, parents may be tempted to allow children to stay out later than usual," he said. 

However, allowing children to stay out late unsupervised is not any safer on a holiday than it would be at any other time, according to Schwebel. 

For more tips for a safe Halloween, go to http://blog.al.com/pr-community-news/2014/09/tips_for_a_safe_and_fun_hallow.html.

By Jesse Chambers


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