It’s that time of year as goblins, ghouls, super-heroes, pirates and princesses make their way through neighborhoods with outstretched hands and shy giggles. Yep, Halloween is here!
While little ones concentrate on having fun, parents can help make this traditional holiday safer.
· 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.
· 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.
· 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.
· If you have very young children, be sure to remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, or small toys.
Preventing fires and burns:
· Select flame retardant materials when buying or making costumes.
· Choose battery-operated candles and lights instead of open-flame candles.
· Make sure your child can see clearly where they are going and can be seen.
· Trim costumes or clothing with reflective tape. Many costumes are dark in color and can’t easily be seen by car drivers.
· Give your child a small flashlight or glow stick to carry with them if they are trick- or- treating after dusk.
Pumpkin Carving: Carving pumpkins is traditional in many families and while the results can be stunning, great care needs to be taken when children are involved.
· 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 curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.
Costumes: Store bought costumes rarely fit properly, so you may need to make some adjustments.
· Adjust costumes to ensure a good fit. Long skirts or capes can drag on the ground and cause falls.
· Secure hats, scarves and masks to ensure that your child can see everything that is going on around them. Also, check to see that nothing is keeping your child from breathing properly. Masks and some super-hero helmets can fir too tightly, making it hard to breathe.
· Make sure that swords, canes or sticks are not sharp.
· 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 or snow should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
· Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.
An adult should always accompany young children. When your child is about ten, they may start asking to go with their friends. There are some questions to think about before you decide to let them go out on their own:
· What is your child’s maturity level? Do they normally act pretty responsible and make good choices?
· Who are the friends they want to go with and what is their maturity level?
· What area are they going to be trick-or-treating in? Will it be local or in an area your child may not be familiar with?
· What time to they plan to start and be back home? Give your child a definite time.
Colored contacts have become popular with some older children. Often the packets these contacts come in have advertising on the package claiming that, “One size fits all.” They don’t. These lenses are illegal in some states, but can be found online. They may cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye infections. Avoid these at all costs.
Whether your child is with you - or out with friends - make sure someone has a charged cell phone with them. You want be prepared in case of an emergency.
Halloween has changed over the years and lots of parents now take their children to specific places that host Halloween parties and activities, but whether it’s in a controlled environment or out on the streets, it’s still smart to keep safety first.
Dr. Karen Sherman, http://www.hitchedmag.com/article.php?id=365