Tips and tricks for Halloween

October 31, 2013 

Here are some last-minute ideas and interesting facts to keep in mind as you prepare for tonight's scare-seeking, candy-fueled festivities. And, our list of Halloween safety tips is worth perusing again before sending your kids out for some Halloween fun.

THIS YEAR, WOMEN ARE SWEET ON BATMAN, JAY GATSBY

Guys hoping to pique the interest of any lady demons this Halloween should consider donning a Batman costume or dressing up as Jay Gatsby.

That's one of the takeaways from a recent survey of more than 2,000 singles conducted by dating website PlentyOfFish. In response to the question, "Which is the male costume that women are most interested in meeting this Halloween?" 24 percent of women responded with the Caped Crusader, narrowly edging out Jay Gatsby at 23 percent.

Among the survey's other findings: A pregnant Kim Kardashian costume ranks as the least popular women's costume choice this year among single men and the top costume choices for single guys are Batman (32 percent) followed by Walter White from "Breaking Bad" (14 percent).

TRICK OR TREAT TIP: DON'T BITE THE GLOW STICKS

Kids will gobble their candy hoards tonight, but poison experts have an important dietary tip: Please pass on the glow sticks.

Turns out, Halloween and Independence Day are prime time for emergency calls about children accidentally swallowing the luminous contents inside glow sticks, or getting the goo in their eyes.

The glow inside the products is typically caused by a chemical reaction that creates dibutyl phthalate. The substance will create a burning sensation if swallowed and cause irritation to skin and the eyes. A visit to the ER or a doctor isn't required unless children have chest pains or difficulty breathing. Parents should give food or drink to children who ingest the goo, and rinse the eyes of children who get it in their eyes.

THOSE SCARY MASKS HIDE EVEN SCARIER GERMS

Experts warn that masks that are tried on by multiple shoppers can pick up bacteria that is passed on to the next person who puts it on.

A TV station in Phoenix arranged for a biology professor to test masks for germs. "I was quite surprised at the number of bacteria and the diversity of the bacteria," Stan Kikkert of Mesa Community College said. "In terms of gross, it's definitely kind of disgusting looking at this data."

Experts said that the bacteria problem can be solved by bringing a sanitized wipe with you and using it to clean the inside of the mask before you try it on.

PARENTAL GUIDANCE: WHY TEENS LOVE HALLOWEEN FRIGHTS

"Halloween is all scary fantasy," says Sheryl Stern, a family therapist in private practice at Long Island Psychiatric in Roslyn, N.Y.

When kids are young, they hold their mom's and dad's hands very tightly in any kind of fearful situation, not understanding who is behind the mask or the made-up face. But once they get older, they've learned to differentiate role-play from reality. "Middle school children don't think there's really a witch following them," Stern says.

There's a lot of excitement and peer engagement involved in walking through the haunted house or watching the scary movie. And then, there's the relief at the end, which is sort of like a release of endorphins, Stern says.

"It's sort of like waking up from a nightmare. When you find out it's not real, there's such a tremendous relief of stress. 'It's only a movie.' 'It's only a mask.' 'It's only a pretend situation.' 'It's over. I don't have to be afraid anymore.' "

But it's different in this way: A nightmare seems real. In the contrived situation, kids know that the result is going to be happy. They know they aren't actually going to be chopped up by that ax-wielding zombie. And so they're thrilled to go back and put themselves through it again.

ADDRESS ANY TALK OF PRANKS

You heard your teen plotting a Halloween prank. Should you make him stay home? Consider letting your teen know you have heard of the plan and you expect him or her to not participate and to tell others to call it off. And let him know that you will be monitoring the situation. On the other hand, it might depend on the prank. Vandalism, for example, is not harmless fun. Repairing or replacing anything damaged should be part of the conversation.

HAVE AS HEALTHY AS POSSIBLE HALLOWEEN

Here's an easy way to limit the candy intake on Halloween night: Have a snack or meal before you go. Trick-or-treating on an empty stomach will only encourage kids to eat more candy. Or give them a smaller container.

GOT PETS? TAKE STEPS TO KEEP THEM SAFE

• Noise such as constant doorbell ringing and door knocking may stress your pets. Find a quiet room in the house with food, water, litter box or crate and bring them out after it's all over.

• Candy and candy wrappers can be toxic to pets. Never leave candy unattended, or within reach, of your cat or dog.

• Animal cruelty increases every Halloween. Keep your pets — especially your black cats (white cats, too) — indoors to reduce the possibility of harmful pranks.

SURVEY: LIVING WITH GHOSTS OK; LEVITATING OBJECTS? NOT SO MUCH

More than half of the prospective homebuyers - 62 percent - surveyed by Realtor.com said they'd be kosher with co-cohabitating with the possibly malevolent spirits of a home's previous occupants. Twenty-six percent of those surveyed indicate that they'd have no qualms with buying a home known to be haunted while 36 percent said that they'd consider it.

Thirty-eight percent of the 1,410 respondents polled as part of the Haunted Housing Report said no way.

There are a few "intolerable" things that would have 'em packing their bags and calling up their broker in hysterics in no time: levitating objects (75 percent), ghost sightings (63 percent), objects moving around mysteriously (63 percent), and flickering lights or appliances (61 percent).

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