When we think of Halloween, we picture children laughing in colorful costumes, jack-o'-lanterns glowing in house windows, and buckets brimming with candy and treats. Experts warn, however, that this fun-filled night can pose safety hazards, including weather hazards. There are precautions that you should take to ensure that this Halloween is safe for your children.
Cold Weather Trick-Or-Treat Tips
This Halloween’s weather forecast includes cold weather, high wind chills, and even snow in some parts of Chicago. These weather conditions call for extra safety precautions while taking your children trick-or-treating this year.
Children have a lower tolerance of cold weather, especially babies and young children. Halloween costumes are usually very lightweight, so this calls for layers. "Dress them in several thin layers that will keep them warm and dry," said Heather Rich, nurse practitioner at Franciscan Physician Network Pediatrics West Lafayette. "Make sure children change out of any wet clothes right away."
Keep your kids warm and comfortable by:
- Add one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions. On Halloween, that will likely mean adding a head-to-toe base layer under your kids' costumes along with their outerwear.
- Accessorize: Snow boots, gloves or mittens and a hat may be just as important to your child's costume as Thor's hammer or Captain America's shield. Hats and scarves should be tied securely to prevent them from slipping over children's eyes.
- Keep things bright: In your zeal to keep your kid warm, don't forget to make them easily visible at night with reflective clothing (consider reflective tape on a dark winter coat) and a light source of some kind.
Limit Time Outside
With the weather temperatures predicating to be in the 20s in many parts of Indiana and Illinois on Halloween night, consider splitting trick-or-treating into a series of short expeditions. Rich says that outdoor fesitivies for Halloween are great opportunities to get some physical activity in and have fun. "Set reasonable limits on the amount of time spent playing outside," Rich said. "Make sure kids have a place to go for regular indoor breaks to warm up."
If you're starting from home, set a timer and bring the kids inside to warm up periodically.
Rich suggests checking the windchill. "Playing outside in temperatures or windchills less than 15 degrees should be avoided," Rich said.
Even if the temperatures are still above freezing, you can still get hypothermia, particularly if it has been raining. "Since children are physically smaller than adults, they tend to lose heat more quickly, so they are more at risk for weather related conditions like frostbite or hypothermia," Rich said.
If you notice your child's skin turning red or becoming numb, get them inside and under warm blankets to raise their body temperature. Learn how to protect yourself from hypothermia.
Outdoor trick-or-treating is not the only Halloween fun that your children can have. Alternatives that are indoors will keep your family warm and dry.
Halloween Safety Around the Home
To make your home safe and inviting for trick-or-treaters, leave your front lights on so they may have a well-lit path to your door. (A well-lit home also reduces your chances of being "tricked" by holiday vandals!) Remove items such as planters, hoses, and lawn decorations so your visitors don't trip on them. Keep pets inside, out of harm's way.
Place candle-lit jack-o'-lanterns far away from the door, so tiny goblins won't accidentally brush against them. Keep your indoor jack-o'-lanterns away from curtains and any decorations that could catch fire. The CPSC recommends against using candle-lit Halloween luminaries along your walkway; instead, place flashlights inside the bags.
Halloween Safety On the Streets
Young children should trick-or-treat with an adult or a responsible, older child. Instruct children to stay on the sidewalk and out of the roadway. Remind them to walk, not run, and to go to houses only where they know the people inside. They should avoid unfamiliar houses and lawns, where ornaments, furniture, and even tree stumps can cause them to trip. At no time should they enter a house, unless they are with a grown-up.
For greater visibility during dusk and darkness, decorate or trim costumes with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car's headlights. Bags or sacks should also be light colored or decorated with reflective tape. To easily see and be seen, children should carry flashlights.
While driving on Halloween, remember that the night will be filled with excited children who may forget their parents' warnings about street safety. Drive extra carefully, keeping an eye out for youngsters walking between driveways and cars, or crossing in the middle of the block rather than at the corners. Adult Halloween partiers should have a designated driver, of course.
If you are not walking with your children, make sure you know who is with them—and set a time for them to be home. Have them carry a cell phone in case of emergency.
Instruct your kids not to eat any of their goodies until a grown-up has had a chance to carefully examine them.
Make sure the kids eat a healthy meal before trick-or-treating, so they'll be less likely to over-indulge on candy.
Test Yourself on Halloween Safety
Health Tip: Drivers Beware