We’re already mid-way through October and Halloween is right around the corner. I think I can safely say there are not a lot of things that are more fun than seeing our little ones dressed up for the big night.
Whether you make a costume or purchase one, there are safety tips that can help your child have a good time and hopefully avoid an unexpected trip to the emergency room.
When it comes to costumes, choosing the right fabric is very important. Look for flame-resistant fabrics such as nylon or polyester, or look for the label “Flame Resistant.” Flame-resistant fabrics will resist burning and should extinguish quickly. You can purchase flame resistant fabric at most fabric outlets if you’re thinking of creating a costume from scratch.
While all fabrics will burn, some are more combustible than others. Untreated fabrics such as cotton, linen and silk burn more easily than wool, which is more difficult to ignite and burns with a low flame velocity. Most synthetic fabric, such as nylon, acrylic or polyester resist ignition and are usually the materials used for flame –resistant costumes. However, once ignited, the fabrics will melt. It’s extremely important to make sure your child stays clear of candles and other fire sources.
To minimize the risk of contact with candles and other fire sources, avoid costumes made with flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves, large capes or billowing skirts.
The traditional sheet with a couple of holes cut out for seeing may be quick and easy, but it’s not a good choice for safety. Kids can easily trip over the extra material and often the eyes slits shift when the child is walking. They can easily miss an on-coming car, or trip over something on the ground. Too much extra material can also brush up against a candle or other fire sources and catch fire. Sheets are usually made from cotton, which can ignite quickly.
Make sure your child can be seen. Purchase or make costumes that are light-colored, bright and clearly visible to motorists. Decorate or trim costumes with reflective tape on the front, back and sides that will glow in the beam of a car’s headlights. Bags or sacks also should be light-colored or decorated with reflective tape. Reflective tape is usually available in hardware, bicycle and sporting goods stores.
Give your child a flashlight to carry with them. There are lots of small but very bright flashlights available. They are typically inexpensive.
Good fitting shoes also help a child navigate sidewalks, curbs and lumpy yards. Although your little princess may look darling in a pair of ruby-red heels – flats are safer.
If your child wears a mask, make sure it fits securely, provides adequate ventilation, and has eyeholes large enough to allow full vision. Masks tend to get hot and annoying after awhile anyway, save your money and use non-toxic face paint to create a unique look.
Weapons of some sort or another always seem popular, especially with little boys. Make sure swords, knives and similar costume accessories are made of soft, flexible material. Hard plastic knives and swords can hurt another child if role-playing gets a little out of hand.
I know that most of us survived Halloween just fine when we were kids without taking the kinds of precautions mentioned above. But remember, that was a different time. Houses were spaced farther apart, traffic wasn’t near as bad, drivers and walkers weren’t as distracted, most costumes were pretty simple, and people weren’t in as much of a hurry.
Costumes these days are big business and stores are filled to the brim with cute outfits that are made cheaply and without your child’s safety in mind. Not all…. but enough to be concerned about.
Halloween is a big holiday and lots of people, of all ages, get in the spirit of dressing up and being goofy. Have a great Halloween and a safe one.