It will not be long until the neighborhood is full of princesses, ghosts, witches and other fun or spooky characters. As much fun as children have going door-to-door getting lots of treats, it is equally important to keep safety in mind. Halloween is an exciting time of year for children.
Aside from getting all sorts of tasty treats, dressing up as a beloved princess or scary witch is the highlight of the celebration for children. However, when putting together the perfect costume, safety is a must. If you purchase a costume, look for the words flame resistant on the label. This doesn’t mean the costume can’t catch fire, but instead indicates the material will resist burning and should extinguish quickly once removed from the ignition source. To minimize the risk of coming into contact with candles or other sources of ignition, avoid costumes made of flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts.
Choose costumes that are light or brightly colored. As your children go through the neighborhood trick-or-treating, this will help make them more visible to motorists. Treat bags can be decorated with reflective tape and consider placing a few strips of reflective tape on the costume itself. Youngsters also can carry flashlights to enhance visibility. Be sure to replace old batteries
Consider that in lieu of masks, creating a natural mask using paint designed specifically for the face. Masks can restrict breathing and obscure vision. It’s important children are able to see clearly while walking through the neighborhood, especially as it begins to get dark. Something else to keep in mind is costume length. Make sure the costume is short enough to prevent it from becoming a tripping hazard. Also, to make sure shoes fit well and don’t have high heels or other features that might lead to falls.
While trick-or-treating, children should be accompanied by an adult or an older, responsible child. Before heading out, talk to your children about safety rules, including only going to homes of people you know.
If pre-teens want to trick-or-treat on their own, discuss safe and acceptable walking routes (no alleys, no cutting across yards); review the importance of staying with a group of friends, selecting only well-lit streets, choosing houses with porch lights on, and using sidewalks or walking on streets close to the curb and facing traffic; remind them not to enter homes or cars to pick up candy; and review with them how to call 911 on their cell phone, as well as any other family safety rules.
Children should always walk, not run, from house to house. Obviously, they’re going to be excited and in a hurry to get to the next house, but stress the importance of being safe. Use the sidewalk when one is available. Lawn furniture, yard decorations and clotheslines can be dangerous obstacles. Also, talk to them about properly crossing the street only at intersections. It’s extremely unsafe to run out from between parked cars.
If you’re driving through neighborhoods, be on heightened alert for children who unexpectedly run out in the road. Drive slower than you normally would through the neighborhood during the daylight. Accidents can happen in a split second so it’s important to be extremely aware of what’s going on around you.
For those families who love to put a lot of decorations in the yard or on the porch, make sure sidewalks or paths through the yard are well lit. Also, ensure all cords for any decorations requiring electricity are secured and will not cause tripping. Good lighting also is essential around any yard decorations, as well as on your porch, to help avoid tripping.
Something else to consider is if you are a dog owner, keep dogs restrained to prevent them from inadvertently jumping on or possibly biting a trick-or-treater.
Children do not eat any of the candy they receive until they get home and parents can inspect it. Tampering with Halloween candy is rare, but it’s still a good idea for parents to look it all over before children eat any of it. Throw away any unwrapped or suspicious candies.
For those who do not venture out on Halloween, but do have trick-or-treaters coming to the house, make sure your porch light is in working order. Also, try to clear any obstacles from the yard that could cause someone to trip or fall.
Halloween can be such a fun time for children and it’s important to take time to make sure everyone stays safe.
Rachel Lockwood is the Family Consumer Science Extension Educator with Pittsburg County OSU Cooperative Extension Service. For more information related to this topic or related FCS programs contact Rachel at 918-423-4120, email Rachel.firstname.lastname@example.org or on Pittsburg County OSU Website http://oces.okstate.edu/pittsburg/ or find Pittsburg County OSU Extension Center or Pittsburg County OHCE on Facebook.