Halloween is the one night of the year that millions of children are given the opportunity to ask for free candy and dress up as their favorite character, animal, etc. Unfortunately, Halloween isn't all fun and games. With so many children walking around after the sun's gone down and traffic driving through any given neighborhood, there's always a safety hazard involved. None of us want to see our children get hurt, especially on a night that should be full of fun and excitement. This is why it's important to follow simple safety precautions.
It all starts with the costume
Regardless of the type of creature, hero, or villain your child decides to become for that one special night, staying safe begins with paying attention to these costume details:
- Bright costumes -- If at all possible, your child's costume should be bright enough to see at night. If the costume is dark, pick up a few reflectors to stick on your child so that he or she can be easily seen.
- Avoid tripping and falling -- Children are not always the most gracious creatures, and a costume that skirts the ground could cause them to trip and hurt themselves. To avoid this, hem it, cut it, or do whatever else might be necessary to ensure it does not become a tripping hazard. Also make sure their shoes fit and stay tied, and any masks have big eye holes for good visibility.
- Flame-resistent -- Although most kids aren't going to stick their heads near an open flame on purpose (at least, we hope not!), some homes you visit may have candles lit. If your child is at the right height, an accident could occur. The easy solution is to make sure that all costumes, wigs, etc. are flame-resistant.
- Pay attention to accessories -- Many costumes have accessories like swords, knives, maces, etc. that could prove to be very dangerous if a child was to fall on them. Make sure that any accessories your child carries are soft and flexible. And under no circumstances should you allow a fake gun to be a part of the costume.
Safety on the special night
Once you've made sure that your child's costume is safe, concentrate on these simple practices to ensure that Halloween is a night of fun and not tragedy:
- Stay on the sidewalk -- In order to prevent accidents, remain on the sidewalk as much as possible. If you must cross the street, check for oncoming traffic and do so safely and quickly (but don't run).
- Carry a flashlight -- To improve your visibility and others' visibility of yourself or your children, bring a flashlight along. This is especially useful if a motion-sensing street light goes out, which is bound to happen on occasion.
- Trick or treat in a group -- We've all heard the adage of "safety in numbers," and when it comes to Halloween, it's absolutely true. Members of a group will always keep others safe because they instinctively watch out for each other.
- Check for sex offenders -- This isn't something that any of us want to think about, but it's an important element. There are resources online that will allow you to avoid homes occupied by convicted sex offenders.
- Avoid unwrapped or homemade candy -- Unless you know the person who gave out a piece of unwrapped candy or other such treat to your child, it's better to be safe than sorry and throw it in the trash.
- Have a phone available -- Most of us have cellphones now, so this one is probably a no-brainer. You simply want to have a phone available just in case your child gets hurt and you need to call 9-1-1 right away.
Halloween is a night for making memories (and a bit of mischief)! Make sure your child has fun and stays safe by following these simple tips. You can also download a handy, printable Halloween safety tip sheet by clicking here. I like to use put this on my refrigerator in the weeks leading up to the holiday as a reminder. Happy trick or treating!