Halloween means candy, pumpkins, and a really good scare. But though we relish the idea of ghost stories and a playful prank, we want to steer our kids clear of the real Halloween dangers. And there are quite a few.
Is your costume safe? What will your child do if he’s approached by an unfriendly stranger (i.e., child predators or a bullying teen)? Here are some of the ways to keep kids safe during Halloween, one of the essential parenting tips served everyday in o5.com.
Halloween safety tip # 1: Costumes
Costumes, wigs and accessories should be flame-resistant. Long hems and long wigs should also be trimmed to prevent tripping and snagging, and avoid flimsy materials, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts that could accidentally come in contact with candles.
Your child’s shoes should also fit properly, and be comfortable enough for long hours of trick or treating. Check if your child can wriggle his toes, and if the soles bend. Don’t use any sharp props (swords should have a blunted tip) and never give toddlers glow in the dark sticks, which contain the chemical dibutyl phthalate (this is not safe to ingest). Check o5.com’s article on choosing safe Halloween costumes for more tips.
Face paints is safer than masks, which can obscure vision. Check the packaging for approval of the FDA (Food and Drug Association), or check the FDA website for a list of safe ingredients. Here’s another great parenting tip: do a skin test on your child’s wrist several days before Halloween, to check for allergic reactions.
Halloween Safety Tip # 2: Trick or Treat Bags
You don’t have to worry about whether or not the vinyl trick or treat bags may contain lead. The bag material won’t come in direct contact with the candy (because of the wrappers). However, plastic bags may pose suffocation risks for young children, who are easily tempted to put these over their head in a game of “peekaboo” or as a makeshift mask. A safer option is hard plastic bags. Here’s a great money saving tip: get an old pillowcase and decorate it with fabric markers. (You can also check our article on cheap halloween party ideas for more money saving tips.)
Halloween Safety Tip # 3: Candy
The most important Halloween Safety rule to teach your kids is “Don’t eat the candy until you’re home.” You need to check if the candy is a choking hazard (especially if your kids are under the age of 4), contains anything they may be allergic to (like peanuts). Also inspect for any signs that the treats have been tampered with—while the stories of razors in apples or powdered drugs masquerading as sugar coating may be nothing but urban legend, it’s always better to err on the side of caution.
Halloween Safety Tip # 4: Dark Streets
Your child will be navigating streets and passing by alleys. The biggest risk is being accidentally run over. Some costumes have reflective or glow in the dark properties, but here’s one great money saving tip: just decorate the costumes and the trick or treat bag with reflective tape, sold in hardware and sporting goods stores. Also arm your children with flash lights.
This is a very important parenting tip: teach, and review, road safety rules like looking both sides before crossing the street (and only at cross walks), and stay on the sidewalk.
Halloween Safety Tip # 5: Stranger Safety
Tell your kids that they should only go trick or treating in well-lit homes, and that they should remain on the porch and never enter the house. There’s also safety in numbers: even older kids should go around in groups of at least three (ideally five). Here’s another important parenting tip: talk beforehand about your kids’ route, and set limits on how far they can travel. Give them a cell phone so they can call in ase of emergency, and call in to check in on them.
Photo from uic.edu