From the candy to the costumes, Halloween is a fun-filled time for kids and parents alike. But it's also a holiday that can pose dangers to young revelers. To help make this year's festivity a trick-free treat, follow these simple safety tips:
Adorning Your Little Ghouls
– Choose a light-colored costume or add glow-in-the-dark tape to the front and back of the costume so your kids can be easily seen.
– Don't buy a costume unless it's labeled "flame-retardant." This means the material won't burn.
– Make sure wigs and beards don't cover your kids' eyes, noses, or mouths.
– Don't let your children wear masks - they can make it difficult for kids to see and breathe. Instead, use nontoxic face paint or makeup. Have younger children draw pictures of what they want to look like. Older children will have fun putting the makeup on themselves.
– Put a name tag - with your phone number - on your children's costumes.
– Avoid oversized and high-heeled shoes that could cause your kids to trip.
– Avoid long or baggy skirts, pants, or shirtsleeves that could catch on something and cause falls.
– Make sure that any props your kids carry, such as wands or swords, are flexible.
– Clean up your mess. Pumpkin flesh is slippery and can cause falls and injuries when dropped on the floor. Layer newspaper or old cloths under your carving workspace, and clean up spills right away so no one slips or trips.
– Don't let children handle knives. Have them draw their designs on the face of the pumpkin with a black marker - then you do the carving. And make sure you're using a sharp knife or a mini-saw that's pointed away from your body.
– Keep kids at a safe distance while you're carving the pumpkin, so that they don't distract you or get in the way of sharp objects.
– Remove pumpkin guts safely. If your children beg to remove the guts of the pumpkin - as many kids do - don't hand over a knife to do it. Instead, let your little ones get messy by scooping out pumpkin flesh with their hands or an ice cream scoop.
– Skip the candles. A burning candle in a pumpkin may become a blazing fire if left unattended. Instead, use a glow stick (available in many colors) to safely illuminate your jack-o'-lantern.
– Accompany young children (under age 10) on their rounds. But, make sure they know their home phone number, the cell phone numbers of parents and any other trusted adult who's supervising, and how to call 9-1-1 in case they get lost.
– For older children who are trick-or-treating on their own, make sure you approve of the route they'll be taking and know when they'll be coming home. Also be sure that they:
– carry a cell phone
– go in a group and stay together
– only go to houses with porch lights on and walk on sidewalks on lit streets (never walk through alleys or across lawns)
– know to never go into strangers' homes or cars
– cross the street at crosswalks and never assume that vehicles will stop (unless kids are wearing bright costumes or have reflective tape on them, motorists may not see them in the dark)
– Give kids flashlights with new batteries.
– Limit trick-or-treating to your neighborhood and the homes of people you and your children know.
– When your kids get home, check all treats to make sure they're safely sealed and there are no signs of tampering, such as small pinholes, loose or torn packages, and packages that appear to have been taped or glued back together. Throw out loose candy, spoiled items, and any homemade treats that haven't been made by someone you know.
– Don't allow young children to have hard candy or gum that could cause choking.
– Make sure trick-or-treaters will be safe when visiting your home, too. Remove lawn decorations, sprinklers, toys, bicycles, wet leaves, or anything that might obstruct your walkway. Provide a well-lit outside entrance to your home. Keep family pets away from trick-or-treaters, even if they seem harmless to you.
Gobbling Down Halloween Goodies
– Offer a filling meal before your kids head out to trick-or-treat, so they won't scarf down as many candy and goodies.
– Consider purchasing Halloween treats other than candy. Stickers, erasers, crayons, pencils, coloring books, and sealed packages of raisins and dried fruits are good choices.
– Avoid giving out or letting your kids have:
– hard candy, especially suckers and jawbreakers - they dissolve slowly, coat teeth with sugar, and can chip teeth and cause choking
– sticky candy - caramels, taffy, and gummy candies can be harmful to braces, retainers, and fillings, and can get trapped between dental work. Plain chocolate pieces aren't as hazardous to dental work and are easier to brush away.
– regular bubble gum - it circulates cavity-causing sugars throughout the mouth and teeth and can also be harmful to dental work. Instead, offer sugar-free gum to help reduce tooth decay and cavities.
– Once your trick-or-treaters have returned with their Halloween goodies, spread out their bounty of candy by letting them have a treat or two a day, instead of making Halloween morsels accessible by keeping them out in big bags or bowls for kids to sample throughout the day.
Take these quick and easy precautions to help your little ghosts and goblins have a hauntingly happy and safe Halloween.
Glow sticks are great for kids on Halloween, they are fun and make for better visibility.