Halloween Safety tips from the Montana Red Cross

Happy Halloween! Here are the pumpkins my kids carved practically all on their own. Willow, in fact, kept her design a surprise until she was done. Notice the little pumpkin cutout on the bottom left-hand side of hers? Landon’s is the pumpkin on the right – you can’t see them in this picture, but there are x-shaped slashes all over it. Truly spooky!

Before you head out for tricks or treats this evening, here’s one last list of Halloween safety tips. These come courtesy of the American Red Cross of Montana.

“Halloween’s greatest hazards aren’t vampires and villains, but falls, costume mishaps and traffic accidents,” says Montana Red Cross CEO Rod Kopp. “By following a few safety tips, you can make this a fun and safe Halloween.”


  • Make sure trick-or-treaters are wearing flame-resistant costumes.
  • Plan the trick-or-treat route and make sure adults know where children are going. A parent or responsible adult should accompany young children as they make their way around the neighborhood.
  • Make sure the trick-or-treaters have a flashlight. Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags. Have everyone wear light-colored clothing in order to be seen.
  • Visit only the homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door – never go inside.
  • Instead of masks, which can cover the eyes and make it hard to see, consider using face paint.
  • Walk only on the sidewalks, not in the street. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the edge of the roadway, facing traffic. Look both ways before crossing the street and cross only at the corner. Don’t cut across yards or use alleys. Don’t cross between parked cars.
  • Be cautious around pets and any other animals.


If someone is welcoming trick-or-treaters at their home, they should make sure an outdoor light is on. Other safety steps include:

  • Sweep leaves from the sidewalks and steps.
  • Clear the porch or front yard of any obstacles that a child could trip over.
  • Restrain any household pets.
  • Use a glow stick instead of a candle in the jack-o-lantern to avoid a fire hazard. 


People can download the free American Red Cross First Aid App, which puts expert advice for everyday emergencies at the user’s fingertips. Features of the app include:

  • Step-by-step instructions on how to handle the most common first aid situations;
  • Videos and animations that  make the skills easy to learn;
  • Safety and preparedness tips; and
  • Quizzes that users can take to earn badges which they can share with their friends on social media.

All Red Cross apps are available in the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store (search for American Red Cross) or on the Red Cross website: redcross.org/mobileapps.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org/montana or visit us on Twitter at @MontanaRedCross.



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This Halloween, Montana’s governor is handing out treats

Montana’s current governor has three children under the age of 10, which means the Governor’s residence in Helena is not going to escape today’s Halloween festivities. No sir-ee.

In fact, Gov. Steve Bullock and First Lady Lisa Bullock are officially inviting trick-or-treaters to their capitol abode – which would be a bit of a drive for us in Missoula. Still, I think it’s pretty cool, and I’m curious to hear what they give out to costumed visitors.

For readers in the Helena area, the governor’s residence will welcome trick-or-treaters today between the hours of 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. The Governor’s house is located at 2 Carson Street in Helena, and limited parking is available at the corner of Lockey and Carson.

For the rest of us, the Bullocks urged parents and their children to stay safe this Halloween, and sent out this list of safety tips:

  • Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult
  • Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
  • Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and other see you.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street. Use established crosswalks wherever possible
  • Enter homes only if you’re with a trusted adult.
  • Only visit well-lit houses. Don’t stop at dark houses.
  • Never accept rides from strangers.
  • Make sure vision is clear when wearing masks and other head gear.

Happy Halloween

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Thanks to the Children’s Museum, Halloween can come early

Can’t wait for Halloween?

You don’t have to!

Each year the Children’s Museum in Missoula holds a fundraiser that doubles as a big Halloween bash. And the 11th annual Halloween Bash will be this Sunday!

Sunday, Oct. 27 from noon to 5 p.m., to be exact. It’s at the Children’s Museum, of course, which is located in downtown Missoula at 225 W. Front Street.

Note that it’s on a day and at a time many families might find more convenient for celebration than after dark on a Thursday, which is when Real Halloween will be happening. Particularly families with younger children.

Since it’s a fundraiser, regular passes won’t be accepted, but admission is only $5 per person. And that five bucks gets you access to all this:

  • G-Wiz (UM chemistry Professor Garon Smith)
  • The Professor of Fun
  • Creepy Critters Show by Animal Wonders
  • SpectrUM Dissection Demo
  • And new this year: Paleo Icky with UM Paleontology’s Kallie Moore

Costumes are encouraged (come on, it’s a Halloween party!) and treats will be on hand.

It’s a party for a good cause: fun. Also, it helps support the Children’s Museum, which offers a variety of fun kid activities all year ’round. The bash is sponsored this year by FOX Montana, Missoula Pediatric Dentistry, Big Pizza, Boone Karlberg Attorneys at Law, Vandewetering and Baffa Law Offices and Zilla State. So claps for them.

Call the museum 541.PLAY or go to www.ChildrensMuseumMissoula.org for more information.

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Halloween can be hell – on orthodontia

I really do love Halloween. Swear.

I don’t intend to be the Debbie Downer of Halloween – although that would make a pretty sweet costume.

See, my inbox is just overflowing with Halloween warnings from various groups. Here’s one subject line that caught my eye: “It’s scary what Halloween candy can do to orthodontic treatment.”

My kids don’t have braces (yet). But they are sporting roughly five loose teeth between the two of them. As awesome as it would be to have some of those teeth pulled out by candy, a visit from the Tooth Fairy on Halloween night is more than this momma wants to take on.

In any case, I was also intrigued by the list of orthodontia-friendly Halloween recipes. Aren’t Halloween-themed foods fun? The Missoulian ran an interesting Foods page feature yesterday on making “noir-hued” treats for grownups.

Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune

That right there is a picture of sauteed octopus over squid-ink pasta. I wouldn’t eat it, but hey.

Here’s the press release from the American Association of Orthodontists in full. Click on the link I included to see the recipes and photos (my favorite is probably the Spider Bites):

It’s scary what Halloween candy can do to orthodontics treatment.

With October 31 just around the corner, kids with braces will be tempted to chew on sticky candy that could tear off brackets and delay treatment.

But parents- don’t fear! For those of you hosting Halloween parties for adolescents with braces, try out these recipes for orthodontist-approved treats!

Frightful Finger Cookies

Goblin’s Gooey Apples

Halloween Parfait

Spider Bites

Goblin Goodies

Graveyard Shakes

Mounds of Brains Cookies

Witch’s Crystal Ball

Happy Halloween!


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Halloween decorations don’t have to be scary – if they’re safe

Hey, did you know Halloween is coming up? If not, then you don’t have kids. Mine remind me how many days are left every, oh, three minutes or so.

Needless to say, we’ve got our decorations up already. Giant hairy black spider? Check. Foam grave markers? Check. Home-made pumpkins and witches and cats on fenceposts? Check, check and check.

Since I’m so – ahem – frugal, every year for the past five years we’ve been re-using the same stuff that’s supposed to look like spider webs when you stretch it out. Only it’s long since lost its stretch, and is now laying artfully in clumps around the front yard – like this:

Hey, Halloween decorations aren’t suppose to look pretty.

I was reminded by the National Fire Protection Association today that they are, however, supposed to be safe when the NFPA sent out a scary warning for parents to make sure Halloween costumes and decorations don’t accidentally catch fire.

That’s because candles alone were the cause of more than 11,600 house fires from 2006-2010, resulting in 126 deaths and nearly 1,000 injuries, according to NFPA.

To help prevent tragedies like that from happening, the NFPA provided this timely list of Halloween safety tips:

    • When choosing a costume, stay away from billowing or long trailing fabric. If you are making your own costume, choose material that won’t easily ignite if it comes into contact with heat or flame. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough so they can see out.
    • Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costume.
    • Dried flowers, cornstalks, and crepe paper are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations well away from all open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.
    • It is safest to use a flashlight or battery-operated candles in a jack-o-lantern. If you use a real candle, use extreme caution. Make sure children are watched at all times when candles are lit. When lighting candles inside jack-o-lanterns, use long fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter. Be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn and far away from trick-or-treaters, doorsteps, walkways, and yards.
    • If you choose to use candle decorations, make sure to keep them well attended at all times.
    • Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.
    • Tell children to stay away from open flames. Be sure they know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire. (Have them practice stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with hands, and rolling over and over to put the flames out.)
    • Use flashlights as alternatives to candles or torch lights when decorating walkways and yards. They are much safer for trick-or-treaters, whose costumes may brush against the lighting.

That’s for the grown-ups. For the kids, the NFPA has a Sparky Be Safe Halloween Coloring Sheet.

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