I start writing this and I almost feel like I want to apologize…because instead of writing about all the “scary things” our kids are going to be this Halloween, I write instead about all the scary things we need to protect them from. So I’d like to propose a deal: I’ll share with you some of the best tips I’ve found to keep our kids safe this year (…thank you Child Safety Examiner, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Dr Kristie McNealy)…and then I’ll share with you my favorite not so scary safety tip that should be good for at least a few smiles…and maybe between the two, we’ll find our way to a happy, healthy and safe Halloween together.
- (CSE) Make sure your child’s costume is comfortable and manageable. Avoid top heavy costumes that could topple him, or flowing, trailing costumes that could get wound around her feet and cause her to fall. Avoid using anything around the neck that may pose a strangulation hazard.
- (NCMEC) Make sure children are able to see and breathe properly and easily when using facial masks. All costumes and masks should be clearly marked as flame resistant. (CSE) For the littlest trick-or-treaters, you may want to avoid masks all together. Choose a fun hat or headpiece, or a dab of allergen-free makeup instead. (Pediatric Safety note: Please keep in mind that recent studies have found that many face paints have lead and other toxic ingredients, so research any face paints carefully before applying http://ow.ly/xldL )
- (CSE) Avoid using real candles in pumpkins on doorsteps, and keep an eye out for them at homes you visit. Trailing costumes or props could get too close and catch fire, or the pumpkin could tip over. Opt for battery operated instead.
- (CSE) If your kids will be trick-or-treating in the dark, make sure they have flashlights or glow-sticks and remind them to stay on the alert for traffic.
- (CSE) Remind kids not to eat or drink anything that is given to them until a parent looks it over first. This includes not only Halloween treats, but any potions or weird substances that might be part of a haunted house or Halloween decorations. Make sure kids know that even though things may look like food, they might not be. Feed your kids a meal or small snack before they head out so they’ll be less tempted to sample candy along the way before you’ve had the chance to check it out.
- (CSE) When checking kids’ loot, be on the lookout for food your child may be allergic to, as well as any recalled foods or items that may pose a choking hazard for kids under 5.
Don’t Let Food Allergies Spoil the Fun
- (Dr McNealy) Review the Rules – If they are old enough to understand, remind your child which foods are safe, and which are not. If there are candies or treats that they should be sure to avoid, discuss that. Tell them to bring their loot to you, so you can be sure to remove anything that might be harmful. Also let them know what to do if they do eat something that they might be allergic too.
- (Dr McNealy) Read Labels: When you check over your kid’s Halloween candy, remember to read labels. Formulations change pretty frequently, so you should even check foods that have been safe in the past. Remove anything that doesn’t have an ingredient list.
- (Dr McNealy) Keep Your Epi-Pen or Allergy Medication Handy: Remember that accidents happen, and be prepared as usual with your child’s epi-pen, or whatever medication your doctor recommends for an allergic reaction.
- (Dr McNealy) Keep Safe Treats on Hand: Keep some safe candy, treats or small toys on hand to replace anything you have to confiscate. If you have the chance, you can even make up a few treat bags to drop with friends or neighbors, so you’ll know that at least a few people on your trick-or-treat route will have surprises that your child can keep and enjoy.
And Unfortunately Because There are Predators Out There…
- (NCMEC) Be sure older children TAKE FRIENDS and younger children are accompanied by a TRUSTED ADULT when “Trick or Treating.”
- (NCMEC) Accompany younger children to the door of every home they approach and make sure parents and guardians are familiar with every home and all people from which the children receive treats.
- (NCMEC) Teach children to NEVER approach a home that is not well lit both inside and outside and NEVER enter a home without prior permission from their parents or guardians.
- (NCMEC) Remind them to NEVER approach a vehicle, occupied or not, unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.
- (NCMEC) Children should be cautioned to run away immediately from people who try to lure them with special treats. Tell them that if anyone tries to grab them to make a scene; loudly yell this person is not my father/mother/guardian; and make every effort to get away by kicking, screaming, and resisting.
If all else fails, take man’s best friend along…
…that should surely chase away anything that goes bump in the night…or at least keep the kids entertained while you steal – I mean sort through all their candy. HAVE A SAFE & HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
Basic Safety Halloween Precautions and Tips for Adults and Kids: Oregon State Police Missing Children Clearinghouse and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Top 10 Halloween Safety Tips for Families: Child Safety Examiner October 28, 2009
Trick-or-Treat Food Allergy Safety: Dr Kristie McNealy October 26, 200
Thanks also go out to PediatricSafety’s EMS Safety Expert Jim Love for our “man’s best friend” photos.