Prevention of accidents is always better than engaging in vain regret. Any accident or injury to a child is always tragic. Old-fashioned common sense can prevent accidents from happening on Halloween. Here are some safety tips for children and adults that will make for a safe Halloween:
Motorists should watch for children darting from behind parked cars and be on the lookout for children, especially children in dark clothing, walking along roads, medians or curbs on Halloween.
Parents of trick-or-treating children can get so caught up in the spirit of fun themselves at this holiday they might forget some simple safety rules that could save headaches and heartaches. Having a safe Halloween will make this ancient holiday even more fun.
The following are a few common sense tips that can help:
Children are always anxious to help with the pumpkin carving. Small children should not be allowed to use a sharp knife to open the top or carve the face. Kits are available containing tiny saws that cut better than knives and are safer, although they can still nick a hand or finger. It’s better to let children clean the insides from the pumpkin and draw a face on it. You can then carve the face for them.
If you set out jack-o-lanterns with candles in them on your porch or elsewhere outside your house, place them out of the way so children’s costumes cannot accidentally be set on fire. Better yet, battery-operated lights are available now that look like flickering candles.
Treat your children to an early Halloween dinner. They will be less likely to want to eat the candy or food items they collect when trick-or-treating before you have a chance to check them.
Help your children to choose a costume, or make one that will be child-safe. Select only fire-retardant materials. If it has eyeholes make sure they are large enough for good peripheral vision.
Costumes should be large so that warm clothing can be worn underneath. Avoid long dresses that can cause a child to trip and fall. Avoid masks that can interfere with vision or hearing—use make-up instead. If the child will be crossing streets or walking on roads, add reflective tape to the costume.
If your child is carrying a prop, such as a sword, dagger, knife, scythe or pitchfork, make sure there are no sharp edges or points that can cause injury in the event of a fall.
You have probably taught your children basic everyday safety rules already, such as not getting into cars or talking to strangers, watching both ways before crossing streets and crossing when the light is green. These will help keep them safe when they are out trick-or-treating.
Plan and discuss the route that trick-or-treaters will follow. The best advice is to have an adult go with them. If you cannot accompany them yourself, another parent or a teen-aged sibling should be designated to accompany children under 12. Know the names of your older children’s companions.
In a jacket pocket, pin a slip of paper with a small child’s name, address and telephone number on it in case the child gets separated from the group.
Instruct children to walk only in familiar neighborhoods and along an established route. Know the route your children will be following if you aren’t going with them. If streets are dark and unlit, provide them with flashlights and fresh batteries.
Instruct them to use walkways in going from house to house and not to climb fences, cross lawns, yards or backyards, and to avoid driveways.
Tell them to stop only at houses that are well lit. Under no circumstances are they to enter a stranger’s house even if invited to do so.
As certain what other activities your children may be attending along the way, such as parties, school or mall functions.
Establish a return time. Make sure they understand why it is important for them to be home on or before the agreed time.
Insist that fruit treats be brought home for inspection. If fruit is among the treats collected, be sure to wash it, inspect it and cut it into small pieces. If in doubt, throw it out.
Older children should understand that damaging property, such as automobiles or destroying mailboxes or throwing eggs at houses is vandalism and can be costly to you as a parent. If children engage in vandalism, make them clean up any mess they have made. Children should also understand that any form of animal cruelty is unacceptable and that teasing or harming animals is not only morally wrong but also is punishable by law.
Make Halloween (see also: “In Search of Halloween: Myth and Reality”) an enjoyable, safe and happy time for your children, and they will want to carry on the traditions you taught them with their own families.