While Halloween is a favorite holiday for children and adults alike, there are a lot of potential hazards. “Halloween is the No. 1 holiday where children are hospitalized,” said Jeannie Marsala, RN, director of Safe Kids at Sunrise Children’s Hospital. The good news is that many hazards can be avoided, guaranteeing a safe and happy Halloween for everyone.
Picking a costume
Great costumes are creative, cute and safe. Parents should thoroughly vet their child’s costume to ensure that it fits properly, is easily visible and that props are flexible.
“The second-biggest hazard on Halloween is falling, and that’s often due to oversized costumes, masks or shoes, especially clown costume shoes,” Marsala said.
- If the costume includes a mask, it is imperative that it fits properly and doesn’t block any part of the eye. Marsala recommends face paint instead of masks when possible.
- Costume props, such as swords or wands, should be soft and flexible. Look for ones made of rubber or soft plastic.
- Store-bought costumes are preferable because they must be flame retardant by regulation, which is important on a holiday stocked with jack o’ lanterns.
Trick-or-treating safety tips
- Always cross the street in a designated crosswalk. Jaywalking or darting between parked cars is dangerous.
- Look both ways before crossing, and keep your eyes out for erratic drivers.
- Incorporate a glow-in-the-dark element into your child’s costume, such as a reflective trick-or-treating bag, glow sticks or even a flashlight. Items that increase visibility are important.
“All children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by their parents at all times while trick-or-treating,” Marsala said. “Children over the age of 12 can go trick-or-treating with groups of friends, but they need to know to look out for each other and to practice safe habits.”
Whether you’re with your child or your child is heading out with friends, it’s important to employ the buddy system. Always stay together, and be sure to approach doors in groups. No child should go up to a door alone. Only approach residences where lights are on, and never, for any reason, enter a stranger’s home.
• Make sure neighborhoods:
- Are well lit
- Have wide sidewalks
- Don’t have a lot of traffic
- Are familiar to you and/or your child
• Parents should inspect all candy before children consume any.
Make it a rule that your child isn’t allowed to eat any candy until he or she gets home. If you’re worried your child may be tempted while trick-or-treating, pack a small bag of candy to send with him or her. Just be sure to keep it separate from the rest of the loot.
Once you get home, check every piece of candy for anything that seems unusual. All candy should be sealed completely and untampered with. Look for bulges in the wrapper, small openings or punctures.
Throw away any candy that could have been tampered with or any homemade treats given by strangers.
• Pro tip: Keep your eyes out for safe trick-or-treating community events before Halloween.
If you’re driving
Anyone driving on Halloween, day or night, must be careful of pedestrians and children running into the street. Always keep a lookout for kids, especially when it’s dark, because they could be wearing dark costumes. Drive 10 mph below the speed limit in residential areas, and never drink and drive.