We are into October already! Leaves are beginning to turn, soon the colder winds of November will begin to blow. October brings us Halloween, which is a very exciting time of year for children of all ages. To help ensure they have a safe holiday, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Centers for Disease Control, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Mayo Clinic.
Make Your Guests Welcome
Check around your home. Make sure hoses, garden tools, toys and decorations that may pose tripping hazards are put away or moved out of the path of Trick or Treaters. Check outdoor lights and make sure burned out bulbs are replaced. Remove wet leaves from sidewalks and stairs to help prevent slips and falls. Make sure your pets are restrained and away from the front door to prevent any possibility of a nip or full-on bite.
Look for costumes that are bright and reflective, and are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame. Adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags can make for greater visibility. Make sure eyeholes on masks are large enough to allow unrestricted sight lines or consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. (Test the make-up in an inconspicuous area to prevent allergic reactions).
Look for costumes, wigs and accessories with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant. If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long.
Use flashlights with fresh batteries to light the way for all children and their escorts.
To Keep Your Trick or Treaters Safe
A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds – right up to the door if they are under 12. If your older children are going alone, plan and review a route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
Make sure your ghouls and ghosts know to only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat. They should travel in a group and communicate where they will be going. Carrying a cellphone for quick communication is also a good idea. They should remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic. Never cut across yards or use alleys. Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or by driveways.
Tempting as it is, treats should not be eaten until everyone is home and they can be inspected by parents. Look for choking hazards, allergy inducers and packaging that may have been tampered with. Any unwrapped treats should be discarded.
For the Motorist
Keep in mind that this is an exciting time for children. Drive slowly through neighborhoods. Assume a child will dart out between parked vehicles or from the mouth of a driveway at any time. Don’t distract yourself by making phone calls or texting – think how you would feel if you were responsible for the injury or death of a child.
A little bit of planning mixed with a drop of caution will keep everyone safe and healthy on this scariest of nights.