What to consider when choosing your Halloween costume

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EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI/CBS) — With Halloween just a few weeks away, federal investigators are warning everyone about the dangers of certain costume accessories.

Investigators with Homeland Security are cracking down on cheap, counterfeit products that could be harmful to the body, including contact lenses, face paint and fake wounds.

“Beware of what you’re putting on your face, or in your body or what you’re going to wear because China does not have the FDA,” Resident Agent-In-Charge William Steele said. “They don’t have the regulations that we do here.”

While the warnings aren’t anything new, cheap counterfeit items can be tempting for consumers.

“The face make-up or contact lenses could give you an infection in your eye or a corneal ulcer,” Eye Doctor Christian Hester explained. “I usually end up taking care of the problems that result from the misuse of them.”

Hester said consumers should never use contacts that aren’t FDA approved because “then you’re really asking for trouble.”

Investigators aren’t too worried about reputable stores. Steele said they’re concerned mostly about online sales.

“If it’s too good to be true, it probably is,” Steele said. “If you’re finding something that’s $100 normally that’s $50, think about it. You get what you pay for.”

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said it’s important to make sure costumes are brightly colored and have reflectors on them so drivers can see trick-or-treaters in the dark.

Here is a full list of additional recommendations from the CPSC to keep in mind when choosing a Halloween costume:

  • When purchasing costumes, masks, beards and wigs, look for flame-resistant fabrics, such as nylon or polyester; or look for the label “Flame Resistant.” Flame-resistant fabrics will resist burning and should extinguish quickly. To reduce the risk of contact with candles and other fire sources, avoid costumes made with flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves, large capes or billowing skirts.
  • For greater visibility during dusk and darkness, decorate or trim costumes and treat bags with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car’s headlights. Bags or sacks also should be brightly colored or decorated with reflective tape. Reflective tape is usually available in hardware, bicycle and sporting goods stores.
  • Children should carry flashlights to be able to see and be seen.
  • To guard against trips and falls, costumes should fit well and not drag on the ground.
  • Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes. High heels are not a good idea.
  • Tie hats and scarves securely to prevent them from slipping over children’s eyes and obstructing their vision.
  • If your child wears a mask, make sure it fits securely, provides adequate ventilation and has holes large enough to allow full vision.
  • Swords, knives and similar costume accessories should be made of soft, flexible material.

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