It's Halloween time again!
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
On October 31st, our streets will be invaded by goblins, princesses, presidential candidates, and comic book heroes and they will all be chanting the same mantra, “Trick or Treat!” For many, fall celebrations like Halloween or Harvest parties are a chance to dress up in costume, gather with friends, and eat delicious treats. Halloween night can also be a bit scary when it comes to safety. According to Safekids.org, only one-third of parents talk to their kids, annually about Halloween, although three-fourths report having Halloween safety fears. Those fears are warranted in that twice as many as child pedestrians are killed while walking on Halloween compared to other days of the year. That statistic may in part be due to lack of reflective tape and adult supervision. Only 18% of parents use reflective tape on their children’s costumes and 12% of children five years of age or younger are permitted to trick-or-treat alone. To combat these numbers and make Halloween as safe and fun as possible, Safekids.org and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend the following safety tips:
Walking and Traffic Safety
- Children under 12 should trick-or-treat and cross streets with an adult.
- Always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the side as possible.
- Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Cross the street as a group when possible.
- Drivers should slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
- If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route ahead of time. Agree on a specific time when they should return home. Consider providing the child with a cell phone.
- Put reflective tape on costumes and bags for easy visibility.
- A child should enter a home only with a trusted adult. Instruct your child to only visit well-lit homes and never accept rides from strangers.
- Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure shoes fit well and costumes are short enough to prevent tripping.
- Masks can block or limit eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup or hats instead.
- Buy only flame resistant costumes, wigs, and accessories.
- Swords, knives, and other costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.
- Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their supervisors.
- Do not use decorative contact lenses. Decorative contacts without a prescription are both dangerous and illegal. These lenses can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.
- Small children should never carve pumpkins. Little ones can draw a face with markers and parents can do the cutting.
- Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If using a candle, choose a votive and place pumpkins on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects. Never leave a lit pumpkin unattended.
- Check outdoor lighting prior to Halloween. Replace burned-out bulbs.
- Sweep sidewalks and steps to remove any wet leaves or snow.
- Keep your pets away from trick-or-treaters. Many little ones are fearful of animals and the animal may inadvertently jump on or bite a child.
- Eat a good, well-balanced meal before heading out on the Halloween trail. This will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
- Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Tampering is rare; however, an adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped, homemade treats made by strangers, or suspicious items.
- Try to ration treats for the days following Halloween. Consider putting candy in the freezer and allotting a few pieces per day.
For more information about Halloween safety tips, visit any of the following websites: http://www.cdc.gov/family/halloween/, www.safekids.org, or the American Academy of Pediatrics Halloween safety page at www.aap.org. Until next time, Happy Halloween and be safe out there!
Lorraine Wichtowski is a community health educator at Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles she can be reached at email@example.com or 585-335-4327.