The scary truth about Halloween dangers

Here's the scary truth about Halloween dangers. Hint: it's not what you think.
Written by Denise Amrich, Contributor

I went shopping for the Halloween candy yesterday. My husband and I moved this year, so it's our first Halloween in a new neighborhood. I purchased a respectable supply of candy because I'm not sure what kind of trick-or-treating traffic we're going to see in the new neighborhood.

I imagine it'll be fun, because some of the neighbors have gone all out, decorating with the orange and purple lights and the skeletons and the gravestones and the spooky music. They seem like the kind of folks who know how to have a good time on Halloween.

I mentioned this to the nice grocery store guy who was helping me out to the car with my bags (yes, the grocery store folks are that nice here in Palm Bay, Florida). He said he thought it was a shame that Halloween was so dangerous these days, what with the Halloween candy poisonings and the razor blading of treats.

I found myself explaining to yet another worried parent that that sort of thing is highly unlikely, and encouraged him to enjoy the holiday with his family while exercising a reasonable amount of common-sense caution. I hope it helped.

Sure, there have been family members who tried to off their own offspring and make it look like treat tampering, but by and large, strangers aren't trying to retaliate for the annual candy extortion threats by messing with the goods. I researched it a little when I got home. I found out that while there may have been a grain of truth to a few of the the tampering stories, I was right and most were likely hoaxes and people looking for attention.

It's sad when people freak out over sticky horror stories that hardly ever happen. Why? First of all, because over-protection is a joykill which undermines the healthy sense of security kids need to navigate the world successfully, and partly because it defocuses attention from the true-but-less-sensational dangers we tend to overlook.

For example, the same well-meaning concerned folks who would never let their child eat an apple from a stranger will dress up their little ones in fringed flammable costumes with vision restricting masks and traipse them through a neighborhood full of open-flame-containing jack-o'lanterns. Sigh.

Also, at this time of year, a lot of people are hyper-focused on stranger danger, which causes kids to lose out on unstructured play and healthy experience of the outdoors. But statistics show that most kids who are abused or abducted are, in fact, victimized by someone they're related to. May abductions are actually related to parental custodial disputes. I don't know if that reality is actually scarier in its own way or not, but there you have it.

As previously mentioned here on ZDNet Health, the CDC is generally a pretty good source of information about health risks. They've put together a great set of Halloween Health and Safety Tips.

Check out the awesome list of related links down the right side of that CDC article and share what you learn by sending your friends a fun and educational Halloween Health-e-Card.

What are your plans for a safe and healthy Halloween? Share in the TalkBacks below!

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