Halloween safety tips

From candy corn to costumes, Halloween is a fun-filled time for children and parents, but it can also pose dangers. Here are some tips for helping make Halloween safe.

Costumes

  • Choose light-colored costumes, which are more easily seen at night. Even better — add reflective or glow-in-the-dark tape to the front and back of the costume and trick-or-treat bag.
  • Buy only costumes labeled “flame-retardant” (meaning the material won’t burn). If you’re making a costume yourself, use flame-retardant nylon or polyester fabrics. Do not smoke near kids in costumes!
  • Make sure wigs and beards don’t cover children’s eyes, noses or mouths.
  • Avoid masks, which can limit vision and make breathing difficult. Instead, use nontoxic face paint or makeup. First test the face paint or makeup on your child’s arm or hand to make sure it doesn’t irritate the skin.
  • Attach a tag with your name and phone number on your children’s costumes.
  • Avoid oversized and high-heeled shoes that can cause kids to trip and fall. Also make sure the rest of the costume fits well and doesn’t drag on the ground.
  • Make sure that any props your kids carry, such as wands or swords, are short and flexible.

Pumpkin-carving

  • Don’t let little ones use knives. Let them draw their designs on the pumpkin, and then you can do the carving.
  • Layer newspaper or old cloths under your carving workspace and clean up spills immediately so no one slips. Pumpkin flesh is slippery and can cause falls and injuries when dropped on the floor.
  • Keep kids at a safe distance while you’re carving the pumpkin.
  • If your children want to remove the pumpkin pulp and seeds, let them use their hands, a large spoon or ice cream scoop — never a knife.
  • Skip candles in your pumpkin, which may cause fires or light a passing costume on fire. Instead, use a glow stick or flameless (electric) candle to safely illuminate your jack-o’-lantern.

Trick-or-treating

  • Accompany children under age 12. Make sure they know their home phone number and how to call 911 if they get lost.
  • Have older kids trick-or-treating on their own go in a group. Find out the route they’ll be taking and when they plan to come home. Remind them to stay together, go only to houses with porch lights on and walk on sidewalks on lighted streets — never in alleys or across lawns. If possible, have them carry a cellphone but tell them not to use it while crossing streets.
  • Remind children to cross the street only at crosswalks and to always walk facing traffic if they can’t avoid walking a road with no sidewalks.
  • Give kids flashlights with new batteries. Tell them to stay away from candles and other flames.
  • Limit trick-or-treating to your neighborhood and the homes of people you and your children know. Tell kids to never go into strangers’ homes or cars.

The treats

  • Check all treats to make sure they’re sealed. Throw out unwrapped candy and anything with tears or holes in the packages, spoiled items and any homemade treats that weren’t made by someone you know.
  • Don’t allow young children – especially those under three years of age – to have hard candy, gum or sticky taffy and gummy products, which can cause choking.
     

–Stephanie Doyle