Halloween Safety Tips
As October comes to a close, we all start looking forward to Halloween. In the excitement of free candy and creative and scary costumes, it’s easy to let our guard down a little and lose sight of safety. For this reason, I wanted to talk about how to stay safe during the Halloween festivities.
Halloween, by design, presents some hazards and increased risk just by how we celebrate it. Trick-or-treating usually occurs at dusk or dark. There is an influx of small kiddos running along streets and darting in between parked cars. The increase of vehicle traffic and increase of foot traffic makes for a potentially higher-risk situation. The costumes we wear can sometimes obstruct our vision, which combined with walking in the dark, in unfamiliar neighborhoods, greatly increases our risk and the chances of a mishap. Here are some items I’d like for everyone to remember and take into consideration, prior to going trick or treating this year.
Maybe you aren’t collecting candy this year, but rather handing it out. Before the visitors come, be sure to look over your porch or entryway to make sure there are no tripping hazards or any obstructions that would obstruct foot traffic to your door.
If you are participating in handing out candy, turn your porch light on. This is the visual cue that the walkers are looking for, to know that you are participating and it gives visitors good visibility on an unfamiliar porch.
And with all the visitors at the door, it’s recommended that you not be doing any cooking during this time. A major cause of Halloween fires is cooking, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This is because we start cooking on the stove, then get distracted and pulled away by the goblins and ghouls at the door. It takes only seconds for a disastrous situation to develop on an unattended stove!
As with anything, parental or adult oversight is important when helping the kiddos select their costume. Masks should not pose a suffocation hazard and the eye holes should be large enough so as not to limit the child’s visibility. They need to be able to see! Painting the face or using makeup is sometimes a better option than a mask.
Depending on where you live, consider the temperature while trick or treating and allow costumes to be large enough for wearing warm clothing underneath the costume. I can remember when I lived in Alaska… it was 20 below and quite a bit of snow on the ground. Kids’ Halloween costumes had to be about 2 sizes larger than their normal clothes, to allow for bundling up! Most locations won’t be this extreme, but if the child will need to wear a coat, be sure the costume is big enough to allow for that. If extreme weather isn’t a factor, then costumes should fit correctly and not be too large or bulky, creating a tripping hazard.
Costumes should also be flame-resistant.
Another item to consider is: “how visible is the costume?” In many cases, costumes consist of dark clothing, and likely won’t be reflective, so we would need to find another way to boost nighttime visibility when the costume itself doesn’t. Which brings me to my next point; safety while out trick-or-treating.
Once the costume has been selected, and our ghosts and goblins are ready to score some free candy, we hit the streets!
- Especially with smaller children, it’s important that parents/guardians walk WITH THEM. Small children are harder for drivers to see. This risk can be reduced by having a grown up with the kids.
- Only visit homes that have porch lights on. This “usually” is the indicator that the household is participating in handing out candy. Only accept candy at the door; never go inside a home.
- Kids are excited and always rushing to the next house, so they are not focused on car traffic. They can dart in and out of traffic or parked cars. Have them cross streets at crosswalks and intersections as much as possible.
- Increase nighttime visibility. I can remember running around with a small flashlight, because that was about the best option we had at the time. Today, there are glow sticks, glow bracelets, LED clip-on lights, and reflective tape. Most of these options are inexpensive and are small so they won’t interfere with the costume, and will do a tremendous job of making your little one much more visible! And this doesn’t only apply to the kids; I’d recommend that even adults who are escorting kids should also take measures to make themselves more visible. Take a look at the $1.00 Halloween LED light-up bracelets, we found at Lowe’s for our kiddos.
In some communities, the idea of “trunk-or-treating” has become more and more popular. This is where a group or organization (in most cases) positions their vehicles in such a manner where kids can walk within an enclosed area from vehicle trunk to vehicle trunk (instead of door to door), collecting candy.
This combats several risks and hazards normally associated with traditional trick-or-treating and creates a safer, more controlled environment. Often, this takes place in a large parking lot where there are lights, so walking around in the dark is less of an issue.
Also, the vehicles can position themselves in a way to create a buffer and protects the children inside the circle from vehicle traffic. It serves as a one-stop shop where kids can travel a small area, still show off their costumes, and still collect a ton of candy! It’s still a good idea to use LED safety lights or glow sticks or bracelets, even in this environment.
Finally, after the parents are exhausted and all the candy has been collected, we need that adult supervision one more time. After getting back home, the adults should screen and inspect the candy; to check that everything is in its original wrapping.
Everything should be sealed. Anything opened or expired or just doesn’t look “right” should be discarded. Not that anyone tampered with the candy intentionally (although there are stories of this happening), but even if unintentional or accidental, any candy that has compromised packaging is just not safe to eat. It’s not worth the risk.
Hopefully, these little tips and pointers will help you and those you care about have a wonderful and SAFE Halloween holiday!