With witches, goblins and jack-o-lanterns aplenty, Halloween is supposed to be spooky for kids. But as children carve pumpkins, walk about near traffic, and knock on strangers’ doors for candy – for parents – Halloween can be downright scary. And for good reason—lots of accidents take place on October 31:
- 19% of choking hazards are from candy consumption
- Pedestrian/vehicle incidents double on Halloween as compared to other nights
But parents don’t have to be spooked with some thoughtful preparation. Below we review safety tips for Halloween costumes and candy. Also check out our safety tips part 2 where we go over trick-or-treating and pumpkin carving!
COSTUMES: Ensure sure kids can see and move easily, and that drivers can see them
- Make sure costumes fit. Too-long skirts and flopping high heels or clown shoes can cause your child to trip and fall. Also be sure that hats, wigs and beards don’t cover your child’s eyes, nose or mouth.
- Choose a light-colored costume and stick brightly-colored reflective tape or battery operated lights on the front and back if your child will be trick-or-treating at night.
- Avoid limiting your children’s eyesight. Instead of a mask (which can impair vision), decorate your child’s face with makeup or face paint. If the costume must have a mask, choose one with eye-holes large enough to allow your child to see clearly or alter it so that there are no limitations to sight.
- Test any face paint before Halloween. Apply make-up on a small area first to check for any potential skin irritation. Read the label and make sure what you are using is safe and non-toxic.
- Make sure costume props are soft, flexible and short; such as a sword or shield. These items can cause injury if a child falls while carrying one of them. Better yet, leave the weapons at home during trick-or-treating so they have free hands to collect candy and catch themselves if they trip.
- Make sure the costume is “flame-retardant”. If your child gets near a candle or other open flame the costume will easier to extinguish. If your costume is homemade, look for flame-retardant nylon or polyester material.
- Do not allow your child to wear decorative contact lenses—they can cause eye irritation, serious eye injuries or even blindness. These lenses are often labeled as “one size fits all” and claim to not require an eye exam, but neither of these statements is true. They can also impair your child’s ability to see in the dark.
- Beware of small costume parts that can be a hazard. For children under age 3, don’t allow costumes into your home that use button batteries for blinking costume parts. They can be choking hazards for small children, and if swallowed, they can cause fatal throat tissue burns. Also keep an eye out for loose decorative buttons, rhinestones, strings and other embellishments smaller than 1.25” that can be a hazard.
CANDY: Keep kids healthy and safe by checking treats and limiting consumption
- Eat before trick-or-treating. Make sure kids have a light and healthy meal before trick-or-treating to reduce “candy-binging” that may result in an upset-stomach.
- Pay attention to food allergies – check ingredient listings for nuts or other items that may cause an allergic reaction in your child.
- Check all of your child’s candy before they dig in. Throw away candy that has missing or torn wrappers, homemade treats from people you don’t know, and anything that looks suspicious or like it has been tampered with. When in doubt, toss it.
- For very small children, get rid of choking hazards. This includes small items that are hard to chew and digest like raisins, fruit snacks, gum, candy corn or taffy. Also remove small toys with a diameter of 1 ¾ inches or less.
- Ration Halloween candy so your child doesn’t overload on sugar in the first few days.
Keep these tips in mind, and leave the spooking up to the scary movies and the haunted houses! And, don’t forget to read part 2 for safety tips on trick-or-treating and jack-o-lanterns.