Each year, on October 31, millions of American children will dress up in costumes and go door-to-door begging for candy. Admittedly a rather strange tradition on close examination, Trick-or-Treating is a cultural celebration which can be fun but can also pose risks. I think we should start a new tradition…door-to-door bacon-begging. This year, practice these safety tips so you and your family will enjoy a happy and safe Halloween:
- If you buy your costume, ask an adult to check to see if it has a label that says “Flame Resistant.” Flame Resistant means that your costume will be hard to catch on fire and if it does, the fire will go out fast.
- If you make your costume, try not to make one that is big and baggy so that the material doesn’t touch candles or other flames.
- 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 blunt, short and flexible.
- Only use decorative contact lenses after an eye examination and prescription from an eye care professional. Decorative contact lenses are dangerous and illegal. Poor quality lenses can cause pain, inflammation and serious eye disorders or infections, which could cause permanent vision loss.
- Test makeup in a small area before applying en masse. Also, remove it before bedtime to prevent possible skin and eye irritation.
- Choose masks, costumes and shoes fit well.
- I recommend Dalmatian costumes. They make everyone look great!
- Avoid candles and Jack-o’-lanterns on steps or porches. Many costumes are highly flammable.
- Don’t allow children to carry candles while trick-or-treating. (Use a flashlight or glow stick instead.)
- Remind family members to keep a safe distance between candles and Jack-o’-lanterns and curtains.
- If your kids see anyone playing with matches or lighters, make sure they know they should tell an adult right away!
- Make sure fabrics for costumes and decorative materials are flame-resistant.
- Tell children to stay away from open flames. Be sure they know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire. (Have them practice stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with hands, and rolling over and over to put the flames out.)
- Keep your pets far away from open flames. Our tails can get swat at candles and cause a fire hazard.
Safety on the Trick-or-Treat Trail
- Provide kids and escorts with flashlights and fresh batteries.
- Teach children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they have an emergency or become lost.
- 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.
- Allow kids to go to only approach homes that have a lit porch light
- Make sure your trick-or-treaters know they should never enter a home or car for a treat…even if it’s a pork chop!
- Make sure kids only eat factory-wrapped treats. Avoid homemade treats if they have been made by strangers.
- Use reflective tape for costumes and candy bags.
- Make sure someone in each group has access to a cellphone for quick communication.
- Tell kids not to eat treats until they have been checked by an adult for potential choking hazards or tampering. (And while we’re on the topic of candy…tell kids not to feed it to the family dog.)
- Tell kids to remain on well-lit streets to stay on the sidewalk.
- If sidewalks are unavailable, tell kids to walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic and never to cut across yards or use alleys.
- Make sure children know they shouldn’t cross between parked cars or out driveways.
- Since motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters, yield to oncoming traffic.
- Notify law enforcement authorities immediately if you notice anything suspicious.
Safe Home Décor
- Don’t let small children carve pumpkins. Instead, let them draw faces with markers. Leave carving to the adults.
- Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you must use a candle, choose a votive, which is the safest option.
- Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects.
- To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, remove everything from the porch and front yard that could trip up a child. Consider items such as hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decor.
- Check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
- If your yard contains wet leaves or snow, sweep or shovel sidewalks and steps.
- Restrain pets so they won’t inadvertently jump on or bite trick-or-treaters. Some of us won’t make that kind of a mistake. But not everyone is as well behaved as me and my family.
For More Tips about Halloween Safety
- Previous Posts on RJWestmore.com
- Halloween Food Safety Tips from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
- FEMA Halloween Safety Hints
- Halloween Safety Tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
- Halloween Safety Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
- NFPA Halloween Fire Safety Ideas
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