Treats not tricks: Halloween safety
Megan Gruesser, MD is a board-certified pediatrician with Community Physician Network.
Halloween is almost here! Time to find a costume and carve your pumpkins! Can you hear the squeals of excitement coming from kids of all ages? What the about moans and groans coming from pediatricians? Why, you ask?
Well, 364 days of the year we teach children about "stranger danger" and not to take candy from strangers.
However, on Halloween, we throw caution aside, and encourage our kids to trick-or-treat and take candy from strangers. Now, I don’t think pediatricians and dentists will push to ban Halloween any time soon, but we do want to offer up some tips to keep your youngsters safe and healthy this Halloween season.
- Consider a costume that is light in color so that your child is easier to see in the dark. (Trick: Add reflective strips to their outfit or trick-or-treat bag for better visibility.)
- Choose a costume that is flame retardant in case your little one gets too close to a lit jack-o-lantern.
- Select well-fitting, comfortable shoes for trick-or-treating.
- Some masks and wigs can limit a child’s eyesight. Make sure their mask is well-fitted, or consider face paint as an alternative to a mask.
- Make sure your children are dressed appropriately for the weather. Consider extra layers under the costume to keep your child warm if it's cool.
Good weather means trick-or-treaters may be out later and in larger numbers. Use caution in crowds and on the roads.
- All children under age 12 should be accompanied by a parent during trick-or-treating. (Tip: Encourage older children to trick or treat in groups, discuss the route that they will be taking, and make sure at least one member of the group has a cell phone in case of an emergency.)
- Only trick-or-treat at homes that are well lit or have a porch light on. Make sure your children never go inside a home or a car to get a treat.
- Consider carrying a flashlight or glow stick during trick-or-treating so that you are more visible to other pedestrians and those who may be driving.
- Encourage your children to walk on sidewalks and driveways ONLY. Lawns may be covered in wet leaves or other hazards that make it easy to trip or slip.
- Obey the trick-or-treating hours posted for your city.
- Try to trick-or-treat in your own neighborhood or those of friends. If you feel your neighborhood isn’t safe or if you live in a secluded area, consider alternatives such as “trunk-or-treating” at area churches or a local shopping mall.
- Attempt to complete trick or treating before the darkest part of the night.
The Halloween Haul
- Go through your children’s Halloween candy. Throw out any candy that appears damaged, tampered with, or suspicious. Also, consider the age of your child and throw out any candy that could be a potential choking hazard.
- Most kids (and their teeth!) don’t need all that candy that they get on Halloween. Consider donating some to a local school, church, or boys and girls club.
- Set a limit to the amount of candy your child can eat each day.
- Does your child have a food allergy? Don’t make them miss out on all the fun and consider allowing your child to trick-or-treat. Afterwards, go through their candy and remove the items they are allergic to. Consider allowing your child to “exchange” the candy they cannot tolerate for something else, such as a new toy, a trip to the ice cream store, or anything else that might be meaningful to them.