Halloween Health and Safety
Halloween is a fun holiday for children to dress up as their favorite superhero and collect delicious candies and chocolate around the neighborhood. It’s also important to be aware of the importance of making sure your child is safe and well by taking precautions. Some of the risks can include poorly lit streets, unsafe food, poorly constructed costumes and questionable strangers. Below are some tips on making Halloween a fun and enjoyable experience for everyone.
Preparing Halloween Costumes
Inspect the material and size of your child’s costume. Overly large or baggy costumes, as well as costumes that have long, extra parts sticking out, such as tails and beards, can be hazardous around candles and flames. Costumes should be flame-resistant. The best types of materials for this purpose are nylon and heavyweight polyester costumes. Do note that “flame resistant” is not the same thing as “fire proof”.
Large and baggy costumes could also cause your child to trip over and fall. Your child should have a comfortable costume that can be worn over warm clothes and comfortable shoes that can be walked in for long distances.
It is better to choose brightly colored costumes so that cars can see children crossing the road more easily. If not, you can use reflective tape on the front and back of the costume for increased visibility. Your child could use a brightly colored bag to hold treats so that it is more visible, and it is a good idea to add reflective tape to the bag as well.
Attach a nametag, along with contact information, on your child’s costume. The information should be in an easy to find place, but not openly visible at open glance. For instance, putting the child’s name on the front of her costume could lead malicious strangers to attempt to trick children into believing that they are a friend of their parents.
It is recommended that your child, especially if she is very young, to avoid wearing a mask. Poorly fitted masks can make it difficult to see and breathe through. If their costume does have a mask, have your child put it on beforehand to see whether it fits properly and your child can see and breathe properly. An alternative to masks is a nontoxic face paint or makeup. You should always test makeup on a small part of the child’s skin first, such as on the arm. Before bed, make sure to remove makeup thoroughly to avoid irritation.
Props such as sword and wands should be short and flexible to avoid injury to anyone.
If your child is under the age of twelve, you should accompany him. Small children can get lost or be targets of older children or malicious adults. If your child is older, she can go trick or treating without an adult, but with a group of at least 3 people. Set a curfew time so you know when to expect your child to return. Both younger and older children are susceptible to predators. No matter what age your child is, talk with him about the area that he’ll be going around, the route, and what to do in case of an emergency.
Good lighting is important for good vision and for being noticed by cars. Have your child carry a flashlight to avoid tripping on anything and to be more visible. Glow sticks are a fun alternative that kids will have fun carrying. You can put a string through the top part of the glowstick (they normally have a hole in the top) and put it around the child’s wrist. Or, you could use a glowstick bracelet. Children should only approach houses with lights outside and go to areas that are well-lit. Avoid dark, empty areas with no people. Such areas can be riskier to
walk through at night, and it’s probably an indicator that the neighbours there aren’t passing out any candy!
Remind your children to never enter into a stranger’s house or car, no matter what they say. Even if they claim to be a friend of yours, or offer a ride to be friendly, teach your child to say “no”. On the same note, tell them not to eat any treats until they have returned home. Under good indoor lighting, inspect each treat to make sure it is commercially wrapped with no torn edges. Toss any homemade goodies. Unfortunately, there have been cases of tampering with goods, so one can never be too cautious. Also make sure that the treats are not past their expiry date. Even if the treats are safe, they may not be age-appropriate. Some candies, such as small or hard ones, can cause choking amongst small children.
If you are handing out treats, remember to check that your house and treats are safe and child-friendly too. Make sure the lights are bright and the pathway to your door can be seen. If you are going to give out treats, buy them rather than make them – it’s more hygienic and safer for everyone all around. You could even give out treats that are not candy-based for a healthier alternative. For instance, you could get erasers, notebooks, small juice packs and raisins. If you are lighting a pumpkin, consider an artificial light-up candle rather than a real fire-based candle. It’ll last longer and be less likely to catch fire to anything.
Other Fun Activities
If your children for any reason cannot or do not want to go trick or treating, why not make other equally fun plans? You could stay in and have a scary movie night with goodies. Or, you could have a Halloween dessert bake after dinner and make scary-themed cupcakes or sweets.
Some community centres offer Halloween nights in lieu of trick or treating. If you attend a church or have a friend that goes to church, they normally have fun activities for children to participate in on Halloween night.
Quick Halloween Tips For Your Child
Here are a few quick reminders to give your child before she embarks on a trick or treating adventure:
- Stay in well-lit areas and only go to houses with lights
- Keep on the sidewalk, but if necessary, look both ways before crossing the street
- Don’t follow strangers, or go into strangers’ homes or cars
- Wait until you get home to eat any treats
- Return by the agreed curfew time
Have a fun and safe Halloween night!