Halloween Safety: Tips for parents
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Halloween is likely to rank high on most kids list of favorites, but their enthusiasm can make them vulnerable. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission identifies eye injuries from masks or costume parts; skin irritations from make-up and burns from flammable costumes accidentally ignited by candles or lanterns as holiday hazards, said Mike Bradshaw, K-State and Extension specialist.
“Trick-or-treaters who rush from house to house also may increase their risk of slipping or falling, or being involved in a motor vehicle-pedestrian accident. Parents can, however, take steps to reduce their child’s risk” said Bradshaw, who offered these holiday safety tips:
- Choose a costume that fits. Extra fabric, extra length, over-sized sleeves or wearing parent’s shoes can increase a child’s risk of tripping or falling.
- Choose flame-retardant costume fabrics and accessories (like a wig or mask).
- Minimize accessories – too many extras can be distracting. And, when choosing accessories, think safety first. Substitute a soft fabric sword for a heavier wooden one with a sharp tip.
- Fit mask or substitute make-up or Halloween face paint. Keep make-up or face paint out of eyes.
- Add reflective tape to a costume to increase visibility.
- Carry a flashlight.
- Eat supper before trick-or-treating. Eating a small meal or sandwich can curb hunger and make children less likely to sample goodies before they have had time to let their parents check them over.
- Plan to accompany your child. Encourage them to walk, not run; stay on sidewalks and not cut across yards; cross at intersections, preferably with a light. And never dart between cars.
- Staying in your own or a familiar neighborhood, stopping only at houses that are well lit and saying ‘no’ to an invitation to go into a house or apartment also are recommended.
When can the kids go out without an adult?
Parents often ask ‘At what age can I let my children go trick-or treating by themselves?’ The extension specialist said there isn’t a one-size-fits all answer.
“The decision usually is influenced by many factors, including:
- the child’s age, size and maturity level;
- the child’s ability to handle peer pressure;
- the character of the neighborhood and the community; and
- the parent-child relationship at other times during the year.
Parents sometimes worry less about a more responsible, dependable child, but may need to be reminded that Halloween can be one of those occasions when even dependable young people throw caution to the wind,” he said.
If older children are trick-or-treating as a pair or small group, make sure they are carrying identification (pin their name and telephone number in their pocket or on their costume), in case they might fall on a porch or sidewalk.
- Give children a deadline, either a time to check in or be home.
- Sort candy. Discard any candy that looks as if it may have been opened or tampered with.
- Enjoy the holiday sweets, but encourage common sense. Store candy out of sight and allow children to choose it as a dessert or an occasional snack.