Jack-o’-lanterns glow on the front porch. Children wait anxiously in their costumes, ready to go house-to-house collecting buckets of treats. For kids (and, yes, adults too), Halloween can be a time of excitement and imagination. But as a parent, you need to protect your little ones from some very real dangers.
What if they get separated from you? Are they prepared to safely cross the street? Did you remind them to not eat the candy before you check it?
Glow in the dark
From chilling tales to creepy costumes, lots of things can be scary on Halloween night. But the real danger for children is walking in the dark. On average, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year. Make sure children know the rules of the road and are as visible as possible at night.
Here are some tips to help you prepare:
- Travel together: Avoid letting children walk alone. Always walk in large groups with a responsible adult.
- Brighten up: Fasten reflective tape to kids’ costumes and treat bags so drivers can see them at night. Brightly colored costumes are better for kids.
- Look both ways: Tell your child to look both ways before crossing the street and to use crosswalks.
- Stay on sidewalks: Walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
- See and be seen: Give children a Halloween flashlight or glow stick to hold while trick-or-treating to help them see, and to help others see them while they walk—never run!—from house to house.
Caution with costumes
Your little princess or goblin is itching to hit the trick-or-treat trail. Their costume looks spook-tacular…but is it safe? The right costume will allow your child to see and move safely while they’re out and about.
Avoid trips and falls by making sure costumes and shoes are well fitted. Swords, knives, and other costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible. For extra safety, slip an emergency contact information card in your child’s pocket or treat bucket in case they get lost or separated from the group.
While beautiful, candles and luminaries can be a Halloween hazard, check that everyone’s costumes are flame-resistant, and don’t walk near anything that’s lit. Use battery-operated lights whenever you can to keep others safe.
Painting your face: Special effects without aftereffects
Decorating your face with face paint or other makeup lets you see better than you can if you’re wearing a mask. A mask can make it hard to see where you’re going and watch out for cars. But make sure your painted-on designs don’t cause problems of their own.
- Follow all directions carefully.
- Don’t decorate your face with things that aren’t intended for your skin.
- If your face paint has a very bad smell, this could be a sign that it is contaminated. Throw it away and use another one.
- Like soap, some things are OK on your skin, but not in your eyes. Some face paint or other makeup may say on the label that it is not for use near the eyes. Believe this, even if the label has a picture of people wearing it near their eyes. Be careful to keep makeup from getting into your eyes.
- Even products intended for use near your eyes can sometimes irritate your skin if you use too much.
- If you’re decorating their skin with something you’ve never used before, you might try a dab of it on their arm for a couple of days to check for an allergic reaction BEFORE you put it on their face. This is an especially smart thing to do if they tend to have allergies.
Don’t let your kids go to bed with their makeup on. Wearing it too long might irritate their skin, and bits of makeup can flake off or smear and get into their eyes, not to mention mess up their pillow.
How you take the stuff off is as important as how you put it on. Remove it the way the label says. If it says to remove it with cold cream, use cold cream. If it says to remove it with soap and water, use soap and water. If it says to remove it with eye makeup remover, use eye makeup remover. You get the picture. The same goes for removing glue, like the stuff that holds on fake beards.
And remember, the skin around your eyes is delicate. Remove makeup gently.
No tricks, only treats
As children’s candy buckets fill up, tiny fingers may struggle to resist temptation: “Just one piece will be okay…”
To make sure treats are safe for children, follow these simple steps:
- Snacking: Children shouldn’t snack on treats from their goody bags while they’re out trick-or-treating. Give them a light meal or snack before they head out—don’t send them out on an empty stomach. Urge them to wait until they get home and let you inspect their loot before they eat any of it.
- Safe treats: Tell children not to accept—and especially not to eat—anything that isn’t commercially wrapped. Inspect commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.
- Food allergies: If your child has a food allergy, check the label to ensure the allergen isn’t present. Do not allow the child to eat any home-baked goods he or she may have received.
- Choking hazards: If you have very young children, be sure to remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, or small toys.
Have a Fa-boo-lous Halloween
Halloween is about making memories: haunted houses, carving pumpkins, costumes, and the search for full-size candy bars. Keeping children safe throughout the festivities depends on everyone—parents and kids, drivers and pedestrians—being thoughtful, attentive, and careful.