With October 31 approaching, you’re probably busy polishing up your last minute Halloween plans. And, as you’re planning costumes, carving jack-o’-lanterns, and stocking up on candy, don’t forget to engage in an additional important song and dance — safety.
There are about 41 million potential trick-or-treaters between the ages of 5 and 14, according to the latest U.S. Census data. Typically, where kiddos go, safety concerns follow. This is especially true when it comes to being out at the street after dark. I don’t know about you, but that thought scares me.
Why? Think of it this way. Not to be the fun police, but the kids will enjoy new experiences that are just as distracting. They’re allowed to take on a new persona, wearing unusual outfits in unfamiliar material. Add in the sudden liberty to venture outdoors, sometimes past bedtime and knock on doors. All-the-while getting hyped munching on candy.
This is why it’s important to ensure you’ve set aside some time to making your Halloween just as safe as it is spooky. Here’s a start-to-finish breakdown of how to ensure Halloween is a treat for ghouls and gals out there.
Halloween Safety: In the Spirit of Things
While it’s important to make sure you’ve got the best looking ghost or goblin, the real evening winner goes to the safest kid on the block. Prior to sending off for tricks and treats, make sure there are a few bucketed items checked off to ensure enjoyable Halloween festivities.
Plan a route in advance. Trick-or-treating could take you several streets away from your house, which can cause sore legs and a bit of frustration. Avoid long paths by mapping out a route before leaving the house.
Stick to paths that you and your child are familiar with to avoid getting lost. This is important whether or not you are a parent planning to join your kiddo trick or treating. For instance, let’s say you get separated from your little masked superhero. Even if they blend into a sea of similar costume-clad children, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing you’ll know where to find them.
Good news? Costumes can also look pretty cool with an additional glow-in-the-dark accessory. This helps to make sure trick-or-treaters can see, and be seen. Add an additional flashlight to light their way. Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
When it comes to costumes and wigs, don’t skimp on the good material. Check to make sure they are only made of flame-resistant material. Either way, it’s important to make sure to stand clear of walking near lit candles or luminaries.
Instead of masks, which tend to make it difficult to see or breath, use face paint instead. Make sure the paint is non-toxic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends testing the paint prior to application on a small area of the face ahead of time. This will help eliminate the potential for an allergic reaction. Don’t forget to remove all makeup prior to bedtime to avoid skin/eye irritation.
More than likely, your child will be spending the entire evening in their costume, so make sure it actually fits. Hem dresses and pants that are too long to avoid tripping and falling accidents. Outfit your trick-or-treaters in comfortable walking shoes and double-knot all laces. And if a costume requires a weapon, make sure it’s flexible and made from plastic.
Speaking of shoes, make sure both you both wear comfy ones. Girls in dresses should avoid heels, and all shoelaces should be double-tied to avoid tripping in the dark.
Halloween Safety: Having a Monster of a Time
Children under 12 should not trick-or-treat without an adult. If your kid is old enough to knock on doors alone, make sure it’s with a group of friends.
The safest trick-or-treating happens in familiar, well-lit areas, says the National Safety Council. Plan to trick-or-treat in your own neighborhood, where there’s a good chance you’ll know the people whose doors you’ll be knocking on. If your child is venturing farther from home, caution her against visiting homes without their lights on. Once at the door, make sure there is caution around animals, especially dogs. Visit only the homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door – never go inside.
And it’s an important night for parents to be extra vigilant, because the reality is, twice as many kids are hit by a car while walking on Halloween than any other day of the year. This is according to a provided statistic from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Make sure to walk only on the sidewalks, not in the street. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the edge of the roadway, facing traffic. Look both ways before crossing the street, and cross only at the corner. Don’t cut across yards or use alleys. Don’t cross between parked cars.
Always walk, don’t run from house to house. Stay on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic. Look for cars when walking by a driveway. Teach your child to be aware of cars backing up and pulling out of parking spots, and to never dart out from between parked cars.
This also applies to older kids. Always remind them to take out their headphones and pocket cell phones when crossing the street.
Community members should also be extra vigilant in keeping trick-r-treaters safe. Use extra caution if driving. Remind drivers to watch out for trick-or-treaters and to drive safely. Youngsters may forget to look both ways before crossing due to excitement.
If you’re planning on welcoming trick-or-treaters to your home, make sure to clear your porch and front yard of any obstacles. Sweep leaves from your sidewalks and steps. Restrain your pets. Light the area well so the young visitors can see. But keep candle-lit jack o’lanterns and luminaries away from doorsteps, walkways, landings, and curtains. Place them on sturdy tables, keep them out of the reach of pets and small children, and never leave them unattended.
Halloween Safety: Candy Goblin
Now that the night’s festivities have dwindled down, the candles begin to flicker – but that doesn’t mean you’re out of the dark. As you’re picking up superhero capes, plastic props and other remnants of a successful Halloween, make sure to also pick through your child’s candy.
Tampering with candy is rare these days. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should still check for items that are unwrapped or aren’t in their original packaging. Remove loose candy, open packages and choking hazards. Discard any items with brand names that you are not familiar with.
And, for the more health-conscious parents, doling out Halloween treats can be tricky. How do you set limits? It is fair to try to determine how much they can eat?
According to kid’s health, there isn’t really just one answer. Parents should instead use their best judgment based on their child’s personality and eating habits. If your kid tends to only eat a couple of pieces, they might be the type you can trust to limit themselves. But if your kid (like myself) tends to overdo it, try setting limits.
One trick is to prepare a healthy meal prior to trick-or-treating. That way they are less hungry when the candy starts piling up. When they return, make sure you get a good handle on how much they collected. Don’t let them store the candy in their bedroom. This can serve as an irresistible temptation for kiddos.
Or, consider the old bait and switch method.Let your child gorge, but make sure they know it will only last for a day or two. On the first day, they won’t feel compelled to eat everything. By the second day, the best pieces will be at a minimum and the overall enthusiasm may begin to wane.
When it comes to the candy your kids bring home, every family is different. What works for somebody else’s kids might feel too controlling or lax. By choosing the best strategies for you, Halloween can still be fun without turning into a month-long candy marathon.
Halloween Safety: That’s a Wrap, Mummy!
Fall celebrations like Halloween are fun times for children. They can dress up in costumes, enjoy parties, and eat plenty of treats. These celebrations also provide a chance to give out healthy snacks, get physical activity, and focus on safety.
Luckily, living in the technology age has brought some pretty great apps for an extra cushion of protection. Use the free Red Cross First Aid App for instant access to expert advice for everyday emergencies whenever and wherever they need it. The content in both apps is available in English and Spanish. Find these and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for “American Red Cross” or by going to redcross.org/apps.
Have any tips for safe trick or treating? We would love to hear from you. Feel free to leave them in the comments below!