Tips For A Safe Halloween: Costume and Trick-or-Treating Safety
Trick-or-treating parents and kids shouldn't ignore safety precautions, despite the excitement of the candy-filled occasion. Follow these tips in order to have a fun and safe Halloween with your family.
Tips for Trick-or-Treating
The safekids.org website advises:
- Use crosswalks and sidewalks, and pay close attention to your surroundings.
- Children younger than 12 should only trick-or-treat with an adult.
- Opt for costumes that are easy to see under dim light, and don't obscure vision.
- Make sure costumes fit properly, and have every child carry a flashlight or glow stick.
- Adults should drive with extra caution on Halloween night, watching for trick-or-treaters darting nearby.
Don't let kids' Halloween fun be spoiled by real-life injury scares.
"Parents should educate kids on the true phantoms of the night while trick-or-treating," said Dr. Steven Frick, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), in an AAOS news release. "They aren't ghosts and goblins. Instead, they'll need to watch out for aggressive neighborhood dogs, vehicles on the road, poorly lit houses, uneven terrain and be prepared for what to do during these situations."
Between 2007 and 2014, Halloween was the holiday with the fifth highest number of emergency department visits by children 18 and younger. The highest injury rates -- nearly 29 percent -- were among children younger than 5 and those ages 10 to 14, the AAOS said.
Head injuries accounted for nearly 18 percent of injuries suffered by children and teens on Halloween, according to the surgeons' group.
Children should be supervised by an adult and instructed to walk on sidewalks. They should never cut across yards or driveways. They should obey all traffic signals, use designated crosswalks when crossing the street, and only go to homes that are well-lit, the AAOS said.
Costume Safety Tips
Safety begins at home, with the child's costume. Every part of the costume—masks, beards, wigs and clothing—should be made of flame-resistant material, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). In the event that a child bumps up against a burning candle, such materials will quickly extinguish themselves. When purchasing a store-bought costume, look for a label that says "Flame Resistant." Choose costumes without big, loose sleeves, skirts, or pant legs to lessen the chance of coming into contact with an open flame.
If the costume is not brightly colored, and therefore not easily visible at night, add a strip of reflective tape, which is sold at hardware and sporting goods stores.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and Consumer Product Safety Commission offer these suggestions when it comes to costume safety:
- Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
- Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.
- Costumes should be short enough to prevent children from tripping and falling.
- Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes. Mother's high heels are not a good idea for safe walking.
- Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly so they don't slide over eyes. Makeup should be tested ahead of time on a small patch of skin to make sure there are no unpleasant surprises on the big day.
- When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories, look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
- Apply a natural mask of cosmetics rather than have a child wear a loose-fitting mask that might restrict breathing or obscure vision. If a mask is used, however, make sure it fits securely and has eyeholes large enough to allow full vision.
- If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child's costume, make sure it is not sharp or long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
- Avoid decorative contact lenses. Using decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. This can cause pain, inflammation and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.
- Review with children how to call 911 if they ever have an emergency or become lost.
It's also important to wear sturdy, comfortable, slip-resistant shoes and for both parents and children to carry flashlights to see and be seen. Carry a cellphone in case of emergency.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers more Halloween health and safety tips.