Trick or Treat! Yes, it’s almost time for little ones to dress up in costume and travel the streets searching for free candy. Fun and safety should go hand in hand on this special night.
According to experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children are four times more likely to be hit by a car on Halloween night than on any other night of the year. In addition, the researchers warned that eye trauma from sharp objects and burns from flammable costumes are also common Halloween injuries.
“Children should be out having fun and spending time with family and friends. They should not have to spend Halloween in the ER because of some injury that could have been easily prevented,” Dr. Sandra Schneider, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, said in an ACEP news release.
An estimated 40 million kids, between 5 and 14, will be knocking on doors this Halloween. Let’s keep them safe!
The ACEP offers these tips for protecting your child from injuries.
▪ Local community centers, shopping malls or schools should be encouraged to organize Halloween festivities that allow kids to “trick-or-treat” without walking outside in the dark.
▪ If kids do go out at night, make sure they stick to the sidewalks and obey traffic signals.
▪ Remind children to stay together in a group with at least one adult chaperone.
▪ Be sure children are aware of the potential dangers from strangers, and remind them to stay in familiar areas.
▪ Avoid masks that block children’s vision and costumes that could cause them to trip, such as baggy pants and high heels.
▪ Make sure costume fabrics and accessories are made of flame-resistant materials, such as nylon or polyester.
▪ Keep kids away from candlelit Jack-O-Lanterns.
▪ Inspect all candy before children eat it and dispose of anything not in a sealed wrapper.
▪ Bring a flashlight while trick-or-treating to increase visibility.
▪ Costume accessories, such as wands and swords, should be made from safe, flexible materials and not have any sharp edges.
Halloween costumes are always a big hit. I mean, is there anything cuter than a little one dressed up in a magical fantasy costume and smiling at the front door?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also has tips for a safe Halloween when it comes to costumes, pumpkin carving, home safety, out on the Halloween trail and healthy handling of the candy bounty.
ALL DRESSED UP:
▪ Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
▪ Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags for greater visibility.
▪ Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.
▪ When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
▪ If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. If a child stumbles or trips., he or she could be easily hurt.
▪ Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
▪ Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as “one size fits all,” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. This can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.
▪ Teach children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they have an emergency or become lost.
CARVING A NICHE:
▪ Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers. Then parents can do the cutting.
▪ Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
▪ Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtans and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.
HOME SAFE HOME:
- To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
- Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
- Wet leaves should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
- Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.
ON THE TRICK-OR-TREAT TRAIL:
- A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
- If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
- Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat..
Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or Treaters:
- Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
- Carry a cell phone for quick communication.
- Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
- If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
- Never cut across yards or use alleys.
- Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
- Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn’t mean others will!
- Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.
- A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
- Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
- Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
- Try to ration treats for the days following Halloween.
Have a fun and safe Halloween!