Wednesday, October 31, 2012

10 Tips for Keeping the Kids Safe on Halloween

Guest post by Kathleen Crislip 
First published on September 25, 2012 on Nanny Care

Halloween is traditionally a time of good-natured mischief, mild trickery, and wild fun for kids. In today’s world, however, parents are forced to be a bit more cautious regarding kids’ safety than their parents were. Provided that you teach your children to adhere to certain safety rules and take the recommended precautions yourself before a trick-or-treating expedition, Halloween hijinks can be as fun, and as harmless, as they were in days gone by.
  1. No Trick or Treating Alone – No matter how old your child is or how much he insists upon being allowed to go out by himself, it’s best to insist that he at least be accompanied by a group of friends. While it’s not practical to accompany your young teen personally, ensuring that he’s with a trusted group of friends can help to keep him out of harm’s way and do wonders for your peace of mind.
  2. Integrate Reflective Materials into Costumes – One of the biggest hazards for children during the Halloween festivities are drivers that cannot see them. While your child should understand that walking or playing in the street is never acceptable, it’s still best to take every possible precaution by integrating reflective materials that will glow in headlights and make your child easy to spot.
  3. Keep Props Flexible and Blunt – Regardless of how hard your pirate tries to bargain for a more realistic-looking cutlass, you should make sure that all costume props are flexible and have dull edges to prevent accidental injury. Kids can be hurt during make-believe jousts, and can also fall on their own “weapons,” should they lose their balance as they scamper across the neighborhood lawns.
  4. Teach Safe Pedestrian Behavior – In order to reduce the chances of your child being struck by a passing vehicle, it’s imperative that you help them understand the rules governing pedestrian behavior. Even if you plan to accompany your child every step of the way, he should still have a basic idea to prevent accidents.
  5. Opt For Makeup Over Masks – Masks are a perennial Halloween favorite, and often the scarier they are, the better. Despite their popularity, however, masks aren’t always the safest choice for a costume. Unless your child has particularly sensitive skin, opting for gentle, non-toxic makeup or face paints is a far better option. The construction of most masks creates a situation in which the wearer’s peripheral vision is obstructed, which can increase your child’s chances of being involved in an accident.
  6. Glow Stick Safety – Some parents opt to give their children glow sticks to boost their visibility to drivers. While this is a perfectly safe and quite effective option for children old enough to handle them properly, the chemicals can be hazardous if glow sticks are handled improperly. Before handing these luminescent items over to your little ones, be sure that they understand never to puncture the plastic casing and to promptly discard any glow stick that is leaking.
  7. No Risky Treats! – Candy and other treats that have damaged packaging, look as if the wrapper has been tampered with, or are unfamiliar should not be eaten. Kids with food sensitivities and allergies should also hold off on eating any of their haul until they get home to make sure that they don’t accidentally come into contact with a dangerous allergen.
  8. Skip Costumes That Fit Improperly – While your little princess may want a train that trails behind her for three feet or the Dracula in your midst a long, flowing cape, these costumes simply aren’t safe for children. These long, draping materials can be tangled, caught on moving objects, or cause your child to trip.
  9. Stranger Danger – While it’s not a good idea to instill a blind terror of all strangers, your child should understand that some strangers can be dangerous, and that they should never enter the home of anyone they don’t know very well and trust completely. It’s also Halloween etiquette to not approach houses with the outside lights off.
  10. Zero Tolerance Vandalism Policies – Though much of Halloween mischief is largely harmless and in good fun, kids need to know that a zero-tolerance vandalism policy will be enforced before they walk out the door with their friends. Toilet papering, shaving creaming, and egging, among other destructive acts, can lead to serious trouble and should never be tolerated or condoned by parents.
Much of your approach to child safety on Halloween will depend upon the age and maturity level of the children involved. While very young children are likely to be content with a trip around the neighborhood, a modest haul of treats, and the chance to show off their costume, older kids will likely insist upon having a bit more autonomy. It’s also wise to have a candy policy in place before the first piece falls into your child’s trick-or-treating bag to avoid gorging on sugar or fighting over the subject.

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