October is the time of year for pumpkin patches, apple cider and costumes. All of these can be exciting and fun for children. While we want kids to have a good time, it is important to consider their safety during the excitement of Halloween as well. Below are some tips for how to stay safe this Halloween.
• Carve pumpkins together as a family with the adults doing the carving. Allow children to draw or color on the pumpkins with a marker and then adults can do the cutting. Children should never handle knives unsupervised.
• Consider using battery powered candles or glow sticks inside of the pumpkins to prevent children from being near candles. If using a candle, make sure the pumpkin is on a sturdy table or sidewalk outside where it cannot fall or roll over easily.
• Painting a pumpkin can be a fun alternative to carving as it allows children to be creative and get involved. Pumpkins that are painted often last longer as well so you can enjoy them for the entire Halloween season.
• Choose Halloween costumes that are brightly colored and fit well. Costumes that are loose or baggy can be a tripping hazard. Costumes that are dark make it harder for people driving cars to see your child while Trick-or-Treating. Consider using reflective tape or glow sticks on the costume if the child picks something that is darkly colored.
• Look for costumes, wigs and masks that are flame resistant to prevent damage or burn to the child if the costume comes in contact with a fire.
• If using costume makeup, apply the makeup to the skin in a small location prior to the day when the child will be in costume to make sure that they do not have any skin or allergy reactions to the makeup.
• When Trick-or-Treating, have your child stay in a group with a responsible adult or parent close by. If your older child will be going out alone or with their friends, discuss with the child the route that is acceptable to you and have a specific time they are required to return home.
• Discuss with children that they should only go up to houses with their porch light on to Trick-or-Treat. Remind children that they should never enter a car or a home to get a treat.
• Remain on the sidewalk when Trick-or-Treating and only cross the street at cross walks. Remember that it is hard for motorists driving a car to see some costumes, so don’t assume that just because one car stops that all cars will stop if a child crosses the street. It is best to stay in groups when crossing the street.
• Encourage kids to eat a good meal before going Trick-or-Treating or going to a Halloween party. This will prevent children from filling up only on Halloween snacks and candies.
• An adult should inspect all Halloween treats after Trick-or-Treating to make sure they are not opened or tampered with before children are allowed to eat the treat.
With these tips, I hope we all have a safe and happy Halloween!
— Dr. Jessilyn Humble is a pediatrician at Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg.