How to keep kids safe on Halloween
I love Halloween. I have always loved Halloween. I think I love Halloween almost as much as my kids do. With an eight year old and a ten year old, it has been so much fun seeing them experience it all over again. From decorating our yard to carving pumpkins to going out trick-or-treating, for me its a blast. I am sure many of you feel the same way.
Many folks don't realize that while Halloween is a fun family tradition in America, it is also one of the most deadly and dangerous. I didn't realize this either until I had a parent call my office after their child was seriously injured while trick-or-treating. What I found out was staggering. I thought I would share what I learned.
Daunting Halloween injury statistics should pose the real fright to parents on Halloween. Statistically, Halloween usually competes 1-2-3 with Fourth of July and New Years Eve for the most injuries and deaths.
Our job is to try and keep our kids as safe as possible. Most parents know about candy tampering. However, many folks don't realize burns, pedestrian injuries and falls account for the majority of the injuries on Halloween. Here is how to make sure that our precious little loved ones don't become accident statistics.
A Halloween ounce of prevention...
The excitement of children and adults at this time of year sometimes makes them forget to be careful. Many of the risks children face can be avoided if we follow simple safety tips and talk to our children about safety before they go trick-or-treating. We should plan and review with children the acceptable route and behavior. A responsible adult should always be with children while trick-or-treating.
Carving the pumpkin
Kids always want to help with the pumpkin carving. Here are pumpkin safety tips.
- Don't allow small children to use a sharp knife to cut the top or the face.
- Let kids clean out the pumpkin and draw a face on pumpkin.
- Don't place candles in pumpkins if young children will be near the pumpkins. Based on what I have seen when my kids are trick-or-treating; I think you almost have to assume that young kids are going to be near pumpkins. It is all to common for little kids to go to the door while their parents wait out by the street.
Costume safety: Avoiding Dangerous Halloween Costumes & Defective Halloween Costumes
Every Halloween children are injured or killed due to dangerous Halloween costumes. Here are some Halloween costume safety tips:
- Choose costumes that are light and bright enough to be visible to motorists.
- Decorate costumes and treat bags with reflective tape.
- Costumes should be short enough to prevent children from tripping.
- Cosmetics and face paints are better than a loose-fitting mask that might restrict breathing or obscure vision.
- Knives, swords and similar costume accessories should short with flexible and soft material. Be sure the tips are smooth and flexible enough to not cause injury if fallen on.
- High heels are not a good idea. Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes.
- Avoid costumes with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts.
- Securely tie hats and scarfs to prevent them from slipping over children's eyes.
Don't become a Halloween pedestrian statistic
Halloween consistently ranks as one of the most deadly days of the year to pedestrians. Here is how to help kids avoid from being run over by a car on Halloween:
- Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help maximize visibility.
- All children should have their own flash light, with fresh batteries.
- Be sure to remind children to look both ways before crossing the street.
- Walk only on established sidewalks or stay as close as possible to the shoulder of the road. That way you can see approaching cars, and they have a better chance of seeing you.
- Don't allow children to skateboard, roller-blade or bicycle while trick-o-treating.
- Remind children not to assume the right of way. Drivers have difficulty seeing trick-or-treaters. And almost every Halloween I see someone speeding around my neighborhood. Really.
- Just because one car stops, doesn't mean other cars will. Be a defensive pedestrian.
- Don't allow children to run from house to house.
- Avoid back-over accidents by always staying in clear view of a driver and never behind a vehicle.
- Never allow kids to dart from behind a parked car to cross the street. Drivers may not see children
Halloween Fire Safety: Avoiding Burns
Fires and burns are the third leading cause of injury related death among children. here are some safety precautions:
- When purchasing a costume, masks, beards, and wigs, look for the label "Flame Resistant." While this label does not mean these Halloween costume and accessories won't catch fire, it means the items will resist burning and should extinguish quickly once removed from the ignition source.
- Minimize the risk of contact with candles or other sources of ignition, and avoid costumes made with flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts.
- Don't allow children to walk near lit candles or flame.
- Use only battery powered lanterns or chemical light sticks.
- Keep candles, lit jack-o-lanterns, matches and lighters out of children's reach.
- Review with your children the principle of "Stop-Drop-Roll", should their clothes catch on fire.
Avoiding Halloween Falls
Cumbersome costumes and masks make walking through dark neighborhood streets dangerous for children. Here is how to avoid Halloween fall injuries:
- Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
- Costumes should be short enough to prevent children from tripping and falling.
- Eye holes should be large enough for good peripheral vision.
- Flashlights help trick-or-treaters see where they are walking to prevent falls.
- Don't allow children to walk across lawns with Halloween decorations or other hazards.
Keep your kid from being "kidnapped"
Child abduction is never a joking matter. Here are tips to keeping kids safe:
- Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
- Don't allow children to get into cars or talk to strangers.
- Securely place emergency identification (name, address, phone number) within children's Halloween attire or on a bracelet.
- Be sure to agree on a specific time when everyone must return home.
- Accompany younger children to the door of every home they approach.
- Teach children if anyone tries to grab them to make a scene; loudly yell this person is not my father/mother ; and make every effort to get away by kicking, screaming, biting and resisting.
Inspecting the Halloween loot: tampering and choking hazards
Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
- No treats are to be eaten until they are thoroughly checked by an adult at home.
- Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them.
- Eat only factory-wrapped treats.
- Avoid eating homemade treats unless you know the cook well.