Halloween – October 31st is just around the corner. Combine dressing up in costumes with free candy and you create a kid friendly holiday! It is a favorite holiday of many, but all they’re thinking about is costumes, candy and fun with their friends. Safety is the last thing on their minds, so parents and motorists need to be especially alert. Anytime a child or an adult has an accident, it’s tragic. The last thing that you want to happen is for your child, friend, loved one or co-worker to be hurt on a holiday, it would forever live in the minds of the child and the family.
There are many ways to keep your child safe at Halloween; they are more prone to accidents and injuries at this time. The excitement of children and adults at this time of year sometimes makes them forget to be careful. Simple common sense can do a lot to stop any tragedies from happening.
Following a few simple safety steps at Halloween time can greatly reduce the likelihood of an accident or unfortunate incident. Here are some safety tips recognized by the National Safety Council:
- Trick-or-treat only in your own neighborhood, on well-lighted streets.
- Have your parent, adult relative or older brother or sister go with you.
- Throw away any candy or food that is not wrapped by the candy company.
- If there are any suspicious treats, notify the local Police or Sheriff’s office.
- Try trick-or-treating at locally organized functions, such as those provided by the local fall harvest festivals or your local public and private schools.
Motorists should be especially alert on Halloween:
- Watch for children darting out from between parked cars.
- Watch for children walking on roadways, medians and curbs.
- Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.
- At twilight and later in the evening, watch for children in dark clothing.
- Drive slowly in any residential area that may have children.
- Do not pass other vehicles that have stopped in the roadway, they could be dropping off children. This is more common in rural areas but can happen anywhere.
Before children start out on their “trick or treat” rounds, parents should:
- Make sure an adult or an older responsible youth will be supervising the outing for children under age 12.
- Plan and discuss the route trick-or-treaters intend to follow. Know the names and contact information of older children’s companions. Make sure they have a cell phone to call in an emergency.
- Instruct your children to travel only in familiar areas and along an established route.
- Teach your children to stop only at houses or apartment buildings that are well-lit and never to enter a stranger’s home.
- Establish a return time.
- Tell your youngsters not to eat any treat until they return home.
- Review all appropriate trick-or-treat safety precautions, including pedestrian/traffic safety rules.
- Pin a slip of paper with the child’s name, address and phone number inside a pocket in case the youngster gets separated from the group.
- Instruct your child to never get into the car of a stranger. It might be easy for your child to mistake someone else’s car your car with the excitement of Halloween. Put a lighted plastic Jack-O-Lantern on your dashboard to make your car more recognizable to your child
- It’s also a night that child predators are looking for victims. Let your child know that they should never get into the car of a stranger at any time. If someone stops them and asks for help or offers them candy, tell them to scream as loud as they can and run.
Children should understand and follow these rules:
- Do not enter a home or apartment without adult supervision. Teach them about “Stranger Danger”.
- Walk, do not run, from house to house.
- Do not cross yards and lawns where unseen objects or the uneven terrain can present tripping hazards.
- Walk on sidewalks, not in the street.
- Walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic if there are no sidewalks.
- Do not enter dark yards or fenced areas as there may be dogs or other household hazards.
To ensure a safe trick-or-treat outing, parents are urged to:
- Give children an early meal before going out.
- Insist that treats be brought home for inspection before anything is eaten.
- Wash all fruit and slice into small pieces.
- When in doubt, throw it out!
Parents should consider the following costume safety information:
- Only fire-retardant materials should be used for costumes.
- Costumes should be loose so warm clothes can be worn underneath.
- Costumes should not be so long that they are a tripping hazard (falls are the leading cause of unintentional injuries at Halloween).
- If children are allowed out after dark, outfits should be made with light colored materials. Strips of retro reflective tape should be used to make children visible.
Masks, Make-Up, and Contacts
- Masks can obstruct a child’s vision. Face make-up is a safer option instead.
- When buying special Halloween makeup, check for packages containing ingredients that are labeled “Made with U.S., “Approved color Additives,” “Laboratory Tested,” “Meets Federal Standards for Cosmetics,” or “Non-Toxic.” Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application.
- If masks are worn, they should have nose and mouth openings and large eye holes to allow the individual to see and breathe.
Decorative Contact Lenses: You can have all of these looks with decorative contact lenses (also called fashion contact lenses or color contact lenses, among other names). These lenses don’t correct vision—they just change the appearance of the eye.
But before buying decorative lenses, here’s what you should know:
- They are not cosmetics or over-the-counter merchandise. They are medical devices regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Places that advertise them as cosmetics or sell them without a prescription are breaking the law.
- They are not “one size fits all.” An eye doctor (ophthalmologist or optometrist) must measure each eye to properly fit the lenses and evaluate how your eye responds to contact lens wear. A poor fit can cause serious eye damage, including
- Scratches on the cornea (the top layer of your eyeball)
- Corneal infection (an ulcer on the cornea)
- Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
- Decreased vision
- Places that sell decorative lenses without a prescription may give you few or no instructions on how to clean and care for your lenses.
- See your eye doctor right away if you have signs of possible eye infection:
- Eye pain that doesn’t go away after a short time
- Decrease in vision
- Knives, swords and other costume accessories should be made from cardboard or flexible materials. Do not allow children to carry sharp objects.
- Bags or sacks carried by youngsters should be light-colored or trimmed with retro-reflective tape if children are allowed out after dark.
- Carrying flashlights or glow sticks will help children see better and be seen more clearly.
Haunted Houses and Parties
Hosting a Party
- If using dry ice in a punch bowl, make sure that the person serving keeps any dry ice chips out of drinks! It can cause severe injury and internal burns if ingested.
- No Smoking or open flames of any kind near decorations or where people may travel!
- Be aware of all your slips, trips and fall hazards, watch out for all those nails and screws in your props.
- Post your emergency exits with well lighted signs. You never know when there will be an emergency!
- Halloween has become an adult holiday too, and alcohol consumption is high. Institute a free ride home program to help remove all impaired drivers.
Attending a Party
- Be aware of the DRUNKIN’ GUMMY BEARS and WORMS this year, do not accept them unless in a sealed package!
- The new craze this year, Vodka soaked Gummy bears and worms. These are not your ordinary kids Gummy Bears and should stay out of reach of small children.
- BE SCARED, BUT BE SAFE!
General October Safety Tips
- Kids always want to help with the pumpkin carving. Small children shouldn’t be allowed to use a sharp knife to cut the top or the face. There are many kits available that come with tiny saws that work better then knives and are safer, although you can be cut by them as well. It’s best to let the kids clean out the pumpkin and draw a face on it, then have an adult carve the pumpkin.
- Use candles with care. Place candlelit pumpkins on a sturdy surface away from curtains and other flammable objects. Never leave candlelit pumpkins unattended. Better yet, light pumpkins with flashlights or battery-operated flameless candles instead.
Let us all make Halloween a fun, safe and happy time for you, your kids and the whole family!