Kids love Halloween. When else can they dress up, get goodies, and act spooky? But parents may worry about their children trick-or-treating, getting candy from strangers, and more. Dr. Alan Woolf, a pediatrician and the director of the Massachusetts Poison Control Center, suggests these simple tips to ensure your kids' safety this Halloween season.
Pumpkin Carving Safety
Although there are many supposedly "kid-safe" knives on the market, carving pumpkins is for adults only. Pumpkins are heavy, slimy, and unwieldy — even for adults. Let your kids participate by drawing on the face and scooping out the insides with a spoon. Design your jack-o'-lantern's face with this template tool.
- Check labels to see that all costumes and accessories are flame-resistant. (This goes for wigs, masks, and beards, too.)
- Put strips of reflective tape on the front and back of costumes to make them more visible to drivers.
- Make sure all facepaints, glues, and glitters are nontoxic. Do a spot test a day in advance — your child may be allergic!
- Your child's costume shouldn't drag on the ground — it's too easy to trip over. Shoes should be well-fitting and sturdy. (Mom's high heels or giant clown shoes are not a good idea for safe walking!)
- Don't allow children to carry sharp objects. Swords, knives, and any other accessories should be made of soft, flexible material.
- If your child wears a mask, make sure it fits securely and has eyeholes large enough so that he can see.
- Make sure that goody bags are light-colored for easy visibility. Decorate them with reflective tape (you can find it in hardware, bicycle, or sporting goods stores).
- No child should go trick-or-treating alone. Always accompany your younger children; older children can go in groups.
- Allow children to go trick-or-treating early but avoid the evening rush hour. It's harder for motorists to see clearly during twilight than at any other time of day.
- Give children specific neighborhood boundaries for trick-or-treating. Set a firm curfew for your children.
- Remind children to walk on sidewalks and be cautious when crossing streets.
- Tell children to only go to homes and neighbors they know and only to houses with lights on.
- Tell children to turn down all invitations to enter homes. Period.
- Tell children to avoid even normally friendly neighborhood dogs, who can be startled by kids they know who are dressed in unfamiliar costumes.
Halloween Candy Safety
- Warn kids not to eat any treats before returning home (a filling dinner can help).
- Throw away any homemade treats or any treats with torn or unsealed wrapping.