Halloween is approaching and the excitement is growing. It is easily one of the most fun times of the year, especially for families with young children. Make it a safe one.
Halloween also happens to be one of the busiest celebrations with large groups of kids dressed in costumes trick or treating around their neighborhoods during the evening hours.*
Parents preparing for Halloween will want to make sure their children stay safe while they're out and not overload on candy when they get home or run into any other problems that could spoil their fun.
The following tips from Rosalind Dockweiler, MD, a pediatrician at Scripps Coastal Medical Center Encinitas, aim to protect your kids, so a holiday devoted to make-believe doesn’t turn into something really scary.
Your child’s costume should not be so long that they can trip or get caught on objects. Hats and shoes should also fit properly.
Avoid costumes with masks that can limit vision and increase the risk of a fall or other accident. Instead use face paints or non-toxic makeup to create a finished look.
Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye exam or a prescription as they can cause serious eye damage.
Use reflective tape on dark-colored costumes and bags so drivers can see your child at dusk or night.
If your child is carrying a prop like a sword or pitchfork, make sure the item can be easily identified as fake. Any points or sharp edges on the prop should be smooth and flexible enough to not cause injury.
Make sure the costume you purchase is labeled flame resistant or flame retardant. If you’re creating a costume at home, use material that will not easily ignite if it comes into contact with fire.
Always accompany young children on their neighborhood trick-or-treating. Teach them to stop only at homes with a porch light on or a well-lit pathway, and never to go inside a home to accept treats.
For young children, pin a slip of paper with their name, address and phone number inside a pocket in case he or she gets separated from the group.
For older children going out with friends, agree on a specific return time and make sure they are not walking home alone.
Make sure they have a phone available and know how to call 9-1-1 in case of an emergency. Give them a flashlight or glow stick to carry while out at night.
Walk on sidewalks in well-lit streets and use crosswalks. That means not crossing the streets between parked cars or out of driveways. Don’t assume the right of way either.
Drivers should be extra careful and anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic especially between 5:30-9:30 p.m. when trick-or-treaters are most likely to be out.
Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Examine all treats for potential choking hazards and tampering before children begin snacking. Tampering is rare but it can happen.
Remember, babies and toddlers should not have any hard candies, caramel apples, popcorn, gum, small candies, gummy candy, pumpkin seeds or anything with whole nuts.
Avoid eating homemade treats unless you know the cook well. Throw out any spoiled or suspicious items.
Limit the amount of treats your child eats. This many not seem easy given that Halloween treats are often packed with added sugar, but you have options.
Treating your kids to a healthy meal before they go out will make them less likely to eat the candy they collect before you have a chance to check it for them. Try rationing the treats in the days following Halloween while teaching your children about moderation.
Kids always want to help with the pumpkin carving. But small children should never be allowed to use a sharp knife to cut anything. Instead, invite them clean out the pumpkin and draw a face on it, which you can carve for them. Use paints, glitter and gems to decorate your pumpkin.
If you set jack-o-lanterns on your porch with candles in them, make sure that they are placed away from the walkway, so kids’ costumes don’t catch fire.
Better yet, use a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, consider using a LED flameless candle.
Have a safe and happy Halloween!