Thursday, September 14, 2006

Halloween Safety

Most of the stores in my area are all decked out for Halloween already and my daughters are planning what they want to be, but how can you keep the little goblins safe and secure in this age of uncertainty? Most children will pick the shortest route to your house, not the safest and according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children are four more times as likely to be hit by a car on Halloween and falls are another major form of injury. Stomach aches can be another concern of the evening. Limit the candy your child is able to eat that night.

How young is too young to take your youngster out for Halloween? How early do you let them go alone? Should you let them eat the candy right away? The times have changed since I was a little girl and I was allowed to go out for Halloween by my self. Though if you live in a small town, it is still relatively safe, but one never knows.

Here are a few ideas about keeping your Halloween a safe and happy one for your little ones:
*If you purchase a costume, get one that is flame retardant!
*Make sure the costume is short enough so the child will not trip when walking.
*Consider adding reflective tape to the costume or goodie bag for greater visibility. Or you might try what I do with my kids. Go to the local dollar store and purchase some of the glow sticks (now they have necklaces, earrings, flasher pins - quite a selection to choose from!) These are great and make your child really stand out in the crowd. For younger children, you might want to consider hanging one both in the front and in the BACK to ensure safety.
*If your child does go alone or with friends, consider adding (discretely) some emergency information to the costume (tucked in a pocket or the sleeve).
*Face paint is much better than masks. Paint allows the children to see, yet still look scary or pretty or whatever.
*Make sure the costume is suitable for the weather.
*Secure hats and wigs so they do not slip over the eyes.
*Advise your child to stay away from any pets wandering around that she does not know (if someone is walking their dog, ALWAYS ask the person if they can pet it).
*Instruct your child to be cautious but polite around adults they are not familiar with.
*Teach your child to always walk on the sidewalk.
*Have your child carry a cell phone or a walkie talkie or have them wear a watch and have a pre-arranged meeting point. Remind your children to NEVER enter the house of a stranger.

And on the home front:
*Take extra precautions for the safety of visitors. Check all loose stair or porch boards; rid the entry way of obstructive flower pots, low tree branches and even hoses that are left lying around. This will ensure the safety of the little goblins as they rush onto the next house.
*Put the family pooch or cat in an enclosed area away from the excitement for the evening. All the confusion can make even the friendliest pet a little nervous.
*Turn on all outdoor lighting.
*If you do have a Jack o Lantern, make sure the candle in it is away from any flowing costumes.
*Brake wet leaves out of the way of revelers.
*Consider purchasing and handing out more healthy (still wrapped) treats (or even a non-food treat; I have heard of people giving away penny stocks for a company). Most parents will thank you for not adding to their dentist bill!
*Though candy tampering is rare, be sure to inspect the candy you child brings home before they dive into it. Get rid of any candy with a loose wrapper or candy that looks odd.
*Be EXTRA careful with the goodies before you give them to your toddler. Remove the choking hazards that are inappropriate for them such as hard candies or small toys (or toys with small parts). To avoid the inevitable protest, you may want to keep a few surprise substitutes on hand.

How young is too young for Halloween? While I really look forward to the cute little one and two year old kids in costumes such as a kitty or a princess, is the candy grab necessary for the health and the well being of the child? Or is it a candy grab for mom and dad? What ever you choose to do, make sure you dress the baby warmly, but not too warm. Just remember to exercise caution with your kids and your Halloween will bring good memories in years to come, not bad ones.

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