A big gurumommy welcome back to Dr. Kagan of Westside Pediatrics! This week he advises us on Halloween safety. When we think safety on Halloween most of us think about candy safety. We’ve all heard the horror story of the candied razor or the poisonous jellybean, but these events are few and far between. Candy is typically nothing more than too much sugar. The most common Halloween injuries actually occur from falls and car accidents. We can make Halloween both fun AND safe by taking a few simple precautions.
Costumes should be fire resistant with reflective surfaces so your kids are easily visible at night. Decorating their costume with shiny jewelry, glow sticks, or flashing Halloween lights will make it easier for you and drivers to keep an eye on them. Incorporate comfortable shoes into the ensemble and remove any items that may make them trip and fall. Props like swords or wands should be made of flexible materials that bend if fallen on.
According to the National Safety Council, children less than 12 years old should be accompanied by a supervising adult. If you are entrusting other parents to supervise, make sure you’ve met them and discussed Halloween safety. In particular, make sure they know to keep the group together and cross the street carefully at corners or crosswalks. It is very easy for kids to run ahead and get lost in a Halloween crowd, so have a plan in place including an easy to find meeting spot should they get lost.
If older kids are to venture off without supervision, you want to know where they are going and with whom. Plan a safe, mutually agreed upon route in advance. Make sure they travel in groups and in well lit areas. Remind them to NEVER enter a stranger’s house or car, walk down alleys or cut across fields/parks. It’s a good idea to give them a cell phone and have them check in regularly.
Even the safest neighborhoods are not immune to criminals. If you have concerns consider checking your local state website for sex offenders and make sure your children know what to do if they are approached by a stranger. They should know to scream as loud as they can to draw attention to themselves and run away as fast as possible to somewhere safe. As over the top as it may seem, having this conversation may save their life.
Perhaps it is the sea of hidden identities or the slogan “TRICK or treat”, but Ole Hollows Eve is too often a night of mischievious behavior and vandalism for your young ghoul or goblin. Make sure your kids understand to respect other people’s property. Remind them of how they would feel if someone damaged their home and that they must always take responsibility for their own actions. For example, if they are caught throwing eggs at a neighbor’s house, march them back to the house, have them apologize to the homeowner and make them clean it up.
Finally, tell your kid not to eat any candy until you have a chance to inspect it. Serve them a filling meal prior to going out so they are more likely to be patient and wait for you to check the candy before they eat it. Despite what they say, they don’t need to eat the whole bag. The joy is in collecting the candy, not the inevitable stomach ache. A few well chosen pieces should satisfy their sugar craving. To review Halloween Safety with your children try playing the Halloween Safety Game at http://www.halloweenmagazine.com/rules.html.
Have a happy and safe Halloween!