Getting candy, playing dress-up and sharing it all with friends — Halloween brings out the kid in all of us. But some of its traditions present risks that call for adult solutions. Follow these tips to ensure your family enjoys a happy, healthy and safe Halloween.
Kids and sharp objects don't ever go together. If you have little ones, consider decorating pumpkins with non-toxic colored markers or child-friendly paint instead of carving them up. That way, everyone can join in the fun. And invest in battery operated "candles" to light up any pumpkins you do carve. Since they're flameless, they remove the risk of fire, and you can leave your jack-o-lanterns glowing all night long.
If you're walking your child around a neighborhood for trick-or-treating after dark, add reflective tape to their costume or have them carry a lit glow stick along with their candy bag.
All wigs, hats and other costume items should be made of flame-resistant materials. And look for non-toxic makeup for face painting and use it instead of masks, which can obscure vision and lead to a fall. Remember to put a small amount of the makeup on the child's arm a few days before though, to test for allergic reactions.
Take all costume hazards into consideration. Make sure your child's costume is not too long. This will prevent the possibility of the costume tripping them while walking near street traffic, or taking a tumble upon the hard concrete. You should also avoid high heels for little girls for this reason as well.
Also, stay away from costume accessories like wands and swords with sharp points and never let children use decorative contact lenses.
Treats Only (No Tricks!)
Little ghosts, princesses and superheroes under the age of 13 should always be accompanied by an adult when trick-or-treating, but in case of accidental separation, put a piece of paper with your address and phone number on it in their pocket. Tell them to show it to an adult if they get lost.
If you do let older kids go out by themselves, a few rules should apply:
• Equip them with a flashlight.
• Encourage them to go in a big group.
• Make sure they stay in the area close to home and on the sidewalk.
• Set a strict curfew.
• Instruct them to never enter a stranger's house.
• Impress upon them that vandalism is never cool. Egging a house or car can lead to big trouble, including an arrest.
Don't allow kids of any age to eat their candy until they get home, where you can inspect their loot of treats first. Throw away anything with open or torn packaging, and watch out for small pieces of candy or gum that could choke a toddler. Also, be sure to read the labels if you have a child with food allergies.
If you're the one at home, answering the door and doling out treats, remember these common-sense safety suggestions:
• Keep outdoor toys, hoses and any other tripping hazards off your driveway or walkway.
• Have outdoor lights on so trick-or-treaters can easily see where they're going.
• Hand out some non-edible treats too. Dollar-store items like colorful pencils and stickers are popular with kids and parents.
Curb the Candy Consumption
Feeding your kids a good meal before trick-or-treating will cut down on their requests to eat candy while you are out, but you'll still end up at home with far more sugary stuff than any kid should ever eat.
After your inspection, let them choose a few favorites for that evening's "treat." Put the rest away and ration it out as rewards for finished chores or other good behavior, or see if your child will "trade" their candy for a book or toy they've been wanting.
If you don't want to throw the rest of it away, save the pieces that will not expire for next Halloween or for decorating a gingerbread house when Christmas comes.