Children love to dress up in costumes because it lets them express their imagination and creativity. Halloween is a day when they can do just that. And getting lots of candy while "trick-or-treating" is a wonderful bonus that just adds to the fun. Halloween does have a few dangers, but none that a few basic before, during and after safety measures can't eliminate.
Before: When planning a safe Halloween, first consider all parts of your child's costume. Be sure the clothing and accessories allow for safe trick-or-treating.
Make sure the costume and accessories (i.e., masks, wigs, beards and hats) are made of flame-resistant material and that no flammable objects are included. All costumes should fit well; loose enough to allow unrestricted movement, the correct length to avoid tripping, and be made of white or light colored costumes. All outer garments should be decorated with reflective tape or markings. If your child will be wearing a mask, be certain that it fits properly, and has large openings for eyes, nose and mouth. Masks should be soft and comfortable so as not to cause irritation to the face. If you can, avoid a mask all-together.
Make-up is preferable to a mask because it allows for better vision. If using make-up, be sure that it is hypo-allergenic and non-toxic. To be on the safe side, test for a possible allergic reaction a few days prior to a full application of make up, by dabbing a small amount onto the forearm, and covering it with a bandage. Check for a reaction in 48 hours.
All props such as swords, wands and broomsticks should be flexible, and should not have sharp edges, so as to avoid injury when being played with. Improper footwear can cause children to trip. Shoes must be comfortable and properly sized, sneakers are best. Never allow a child to wear adult shoes or high-healed shoes.
During: Trick-or-Treating: Some Do's and Don'ts
Auto-pedestrian accidents and falls are responsible for the most frequent injuries on Halloween.
Give your child a flashlight to carry for better visibility; this will also allow others to see her. Teach your child never to run at night and to stay on lighted sidewalks, streets, and driveways. Instruct kids not to travel across people's yards where obstacles such as flower pots, yard tools, stairs, curbs and other tripping hazards may not be clearly visible. Remind your child to avoid dogs, even your own dog may be frightened by a costume.
A child who walks alone on Halloween is vulnerable to predators. Younger children should always be accompanied by an adult, older children, should travel with friends, and stay within their own neighborhood. Parents should set rules such as boundaries, and curfews, and enforce them.
Remind your child to practice the rules of stranger safety, and teach your youngster to approach only those homes of families you know well and whose porch lights are turned on.
Adults, please be extra alert to children darting into the street (be prepared to give trick-or-treaters the right-of-way) Keep your home and yard illuminated, and make sure walkways and stairs are free of obstructions and well lit . Avoid jack-o-lanterns lit by candles. Outdoor jack-o-lanterns have caught many a kid's costume on fire.
After: The candy received while trick-or-treating can also be dangerous. Follow these few simple rules when treats are brought home. Instruct your child never to eat Halloween candy until you have inspected it. You should look for punctured or open packages, or any other signs of tampering. Throw away any unwrapped candy, fruits or drinks collected by your child, they could be tainted. Many hospitals will X-RAY treats (contact your local hospital to see if they offer this service). You should remove all small candy decorations from treats, such as little pumpkins and candy corns, before allowing the treat to be eaten, as they could be a potential choking hazard. Remember, if in DOUBT, THROW IT OUT.
A complete Halloween Safety Checklist is available by writing: The As Safe As Possible Campaign. P.O. Box 4312, Great Neck, N.Y. 11023. Please send a SASE envelope. Or e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org