You may have started thinking about Halloween costumes or your child may be doing some preliminary planning for the holiday! Now is the prefect time to make sure you have planned appropriately to keep your family safe during this night of fun. While I hate to be the one that takes any fun out of Halloween, I also feel it is my duty to share some of the dangers of the holiday! Holidays in general are dangerous for kids. As parents, we tend to let our guards down a bit and enjoy ourselves a little too and there are usually extra hazards around (decorations, more people, different foods, etc.)! Keep the following information in mind when planning out some fun for you and your child this Halloween!
Some masks make it difficult to see well and this can be an increased hazard to your child’s ability to see cars and other hazards when running around trick-or-treating. Make sure the mask you choose has holes large enough that your child’s vision is not obstructed and for complete assurance, do some face painting instead of having your child wear a mask. Most masks, no matter how large the eye holes are, impact peripheral vision to some degree. If you have the clutsy child or one that already isn’t too aware of his surroundings, a mask might not be your best bet.
Capes, oversized shoes, and other costume accessories can really make an outfit look great but can also increase the risk of your child tripping, getting tangled, or harming another child. Most purchased costumes are relatively safe but make sure your child can freely move when wearing the costume and to prevent trips and falls, it should not hang on the ground. If an accessory is needed for the costume (sword, wand, etc.), choose a soft, flexible one so that if it accidently swung in another child’s face it can’t do much harm or one that wouldn’t be a hazard to fall on. Also, some homeowners like to decorate with a lit Jack-o-Lantern on their entrance. Remind your child not to get too close to any lit candles or other fire hazards as her costume or wig may not be flame resistant.
Ask that you review your child’s candy bag before she consumes any of her new treasures. Watch for candy that is not wrapped or in its original packaging. Children under the age of three are especially prone to putting things in their mouth so look for objects that could be choking hazards before allowing your little one to go through the bag. Unless you know the giver, it is best to avoid fruits, baked goods, and other foods that don’t have an original packaging to ensure that the food was not tampered with.
Cars and Street Traffic
Most adults are extra vigilant on Halloween for little bodies in the road but remind your child of safety rules when crossing streets. Small children are especially vulnerable to traffic due to their short stature and quick moves so help your child out by choosing a costume that is light colored, bright, or clearly visible to motorists. Trick or treat bags can also be decorated with reflective tape or be a bright color. Try to incorporate a flashlight into your child’s costume by decorating it to match the theme.
Now you are ready to help your child choose a safe costume and prepare for some spooky fun!
Jessica Martin, Ed.S., NCSP
RVA School Psychologist & Director of Special Education & Student Services