How can I make sure my child has a safe Halloween?
Halloween can be a fun and exciting time for kids, but it’s important to make sure that it’s safe. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Avoid using masks for costumes as they make it hard for children to see what’s around them, including cars. Try a hypoallergenic (less likely to cause an allergic reaction), non-toxic make-up kit instead.
- Make or buy costumes in light-coloured material. Place strips of reflective tape on the back and front, so that your child is easily visible to drivers.
- Costumes should fit properly to prevent trips and falls. Avoid items such as oversized shoes, high heels, long dresses or capes.
- Dress your child appropriately for the weather and add layers if needed. Cold weather or water absorbent materials in the rain can be very uncomfortable.
- Put your child’s name, address and phone number on his costume.
- Children under 10 should be accompanied by an adult for trick or treating. By the age of 10, some children are ready to go with a group of friends.
- Keep in mind that gum and hard candy can pose a choking risk for young children
- Remove make-up before bed to prevent possible skin and eye irritation.
If your child is going out without an adult:
- Make sure your child is in a group of at least three people.
- Give them a cell phone in case he needs to make an emergency phone call. Bringing a flashlight is also a good idea.
- Draw a map outlining the route that they will follow. Ask them to call you if he plans to go on a street that isn’t on the route, or if their plans have changed.
- Make sure they let you know where they are going at all times.
- Set a curfew (make sure they have a watch with them).
- Tell them not to eat any treats until you are able to look through them to make certain that everything is okay. If your child has food allergies, remind them to mention it to the person who is giving out the treats.
Remember to tell your child to:
- Carry a white bag or pillowcase for their candy, or add some reflective tape.
- Avoid houses that are not well lit. Never go inside a stranger’s house.
- Walk on the sidewalk whenever possible. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the side of the road facing traffic.
- Work their way up one side of the street and then start on the other. Tell them not to criss-cross back and forth across the street.
You can make Halloween safe for other kids by:
- Turning on outdoor lights, and replacing burnt-out bulbs.
- Removing items from your yard or porch that might cause a child to trip.
- Sweeping wet leaves away from your steps and sidewalk.
- Using something other than candles in your pumpkins, such as a flashlight or a battery-operated candle. If you are using a candle, don’t leave the pumpkin unattended.
- Remembering that some children have food allergies and selecting your treats accordingly. Treats other than candy, such as erasers, stickers and yo-yo’s, are viable options as well.
Alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating:
- Local community centres sometimes offer Halloween night activities.
- Local shopping centres often have trick-or-treat nights for young children in a more controlled environment.
- Plan a night at home with Halloween games and movies. Invite friends.
Dr. Denis Leduc is a general paediatrician in the Montreal area. He is a Past President of the Canadian Paediatric Society.
For more information on your child’s growth and development, visit www.caringforkids.cps.ca or www.soinsdenosenfants.cps.ca, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/caringforkids.cps.ca and on Twitter @CaringforKids or @soinsenfants.