It’s the end of October and everyone is buzzing about Halloween costumes and trick-or-treating. It’s such a fun time of year, but as our doctors and experts in the Drug and Poison Information Center remind us, it’s also a time to be diligent as parents and make sure the dangers of Halloween activities are minimized.
Close parental supervision is the key to keeping kids safe. Help your kids choose their costumes. Beware of flimsy materials and outfits with big baggy sleeves or billowing skirts. It’s important to look for flame resistant materials and be aware of open lames in Jack O’ Lanterns as you’re trick-or-treating.
Avoid costumes that include sharp objects and make sure masks allow for full vision. If a mask impedes your child’s ability to see, apply non-toxic face paint or cosmetics as an alternative.
Most trick-or-treating starts before it gets dark, but make sure your family is ready to walk home safely by planning costumes of highly visible colors and adding reflective tape or stickers to the evening’s ensemble. Kids should also wear properly fitting shoes and should have identification, including their name, address and a parent’s phone number attached to their clothes in case they become separated from adults.
The most important thing to remember when preparing kids to walk the neighborhood is to make them visible to automobile drivers. The reflective tape mentioned above is a great start, but you should also make sure kids have flashlights to carry and adults with them if under age 10. If older kids are out alone, limit their route to familiar areas and review the rules of crossing streets – look both ways and cross only at intersections and crosswalks.
And, the candy. Ah, the candy. Many kids will be tempted to eat candy while they’re still out trick-or-treating, but they shouldn’t eat any treats until they’ve been sorted and checked by an adult at home. Feed your little ghosts and goblins a good meal before they go out and you’ll be able to curb the snacking, plus avoid cranky, hungry trick-or-treaters.
When you’re checking treats at home, throw candy away if it appears to have been unwrapped and re-wrapped, or appears suspicious in any way. Small items that might present a choking hazard should be kept away from young children as well.
And one final thing to keep in mind when planning your Halloween fun – Halloween can be frightening for kids. Any fears your kids exhibit should be taken seriously and our psychologists recommend helping them interpret Halloween as a make-believe situation. None of these monsters are real, and it’s just our friendly neighbor, Jim, behind that scary mask. A “dress rehearsal” for costumes can also be very helpful for young kids who are still getting used to the Halloween concept. This exercise will give them time to get used to how they look.