Keep safety in mind this Halloween

posted on:
October 9, 2010

author:
KURT NILAND

As delightful as Halloween is for most Americans, the spooky holiday is also fraught with more dangers than any other festive time of year. Everything from candles and costumes to strangers with candy and busy neighborhood traffic mean that children and parents must be extra mindful of potentially dangerous things and situations that can potentially turn a joyous evening into a real nightmare.

Following is a list of tips that will help you keep Halloween safe and fun for everyone.

Trick or treating:

  • Don’t allow children to approach or enter a stranger’s house unless they’re accompanied by parents or other adult supervisor.
  • Remind children to be careful crossing streets. Halloween is an exciting night for most kids, so it’s not hard for them to forget the rules and run out into the street without looking.
  • Parents and teen trick or treaters should check their state’s sex offender registry and avoid knocking on doors of houses where a potential threat may reside. Be aware that only adult sex offenders will be displayed. Find Alabama information online.
  • Older trick or treaters without adult supervision should always carry cell phones.
  • Older kids should also tell their parents or guardian their route and call home with a location update at least once every hour. This way, if the parents fail to hear from their child, they can take action. Likewise, parents should establish a curfew and retrieve children who do not come home by the designated time.
  • Parents must warn kids that tricks in the form of vandalism are not just unethical and illegal; they can also provoke anger and retaliation.
  • Parents should visually inspect the candy their children bring home and throw out any suspicious pieces. Any candy that has obviously been tampered with to cause harm should be submitted to the police.
  • Parents should encourage their children to eat a substantial meal before going out on Halloween. This will reduce the child’s urge to binge on candy before parents have a chance to inspect it.
  • Parents should remind children to never get into a car with a stranger, no matter what the stranger says to them. If the worst happens and a child is abducted, parents should remind them to scream as loudly as possible, draw attention to themselves in any way they can, and run away as fast as they can if possible.
  • Drive slowly and extremely cautiously on Halloween night. In residential areas it’s best to drive your vehicle at a crawl. Excited children can dart out into the street from between parked cars and hedges.
  • Avoid passing other vehicles that have stopped in the road as they may be stopping to let children out or yielding to children trying to cross.
  • If you are dropping off kids or picking them up, pull over as much as possible and use your hazards to let other drivers know you intend to park there temporarily.
  • A small battery-lit jack-o-lantern on your dash or stickers on your windows will help very young children from confusing somebody else’s car with yours. Police occasionally receive reports of missing children on Halloween because they ended up mistaking their group and getting into a stranger’s car.

Costumes:

  • Be mindful of children’s costumes. Masks can obscure vision and costumes can restrict mobility or present a tripping hazard.
  • Costume props and accessories (such as knives, swords, pitchforks) should be made of plastic and never have sharp edges. Do not allow children to use real, threatening instruments that could harm them or other children.
  • Costumes should always be made of fire-proof or flame retardant materials. Homemade costumes should be made with fire retardant materials or treated with a fire retardant spray.
  • Children should wear reflector strips, glow sticks, or carry flashlights, especially if they are dressed in black.
  • Children should avoid wearing high heels or other footwear that would impede their ability to walk safely.
  • Children dressed as something common, such as a white ghost or witch in a black dress, or a popular movie character should wear items, such as flashing lights or costume jewelry that that will help their parents identify them easily in a crowd.

Parties:

  • Parents should know where their children will be attending Halloween parties. Meet the parents and get their contact information before the child attends.
  • Avoid using dry ice as an effect for drinks. Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide and will contaminate beverages that it comes in contact with, potentially causing serious damage to internal organs if ingested.
  • If you are holding a party, secure or remove breakable furniture and objects from the room.
  • If you plan to have a lot of candle-lit jack-o-lanterns and other Halloween décor, consider using battery-powered electrical votives and tea lights, especially if lots of children present will be present.
  • When carving pumpkins, parents should never let young children cut into the pumpkins with sharp knives themselves. Instead, help the children design their jack-o-lantern face with a marker and allow the child to watch as you carve their creation. Allow the children to punch out the holes once they have been cut.
  • Place lighted candles and jack-o-lanterns in safe locations. Every year, children dressed up in sheets and other loose garments catch fire by standing too close to candles or jack-o-lanterns on the doorsteps.

Pets:

  • Keep excitable pets in a safe place away from the front door. Some dogs feel just as threatened as small children by monster costumes, so make sure they and the trick or treaters at your door stay safely separated.
  • Consider keeping your cats and dogs confined if you are hosting a Halloween party in your home. The unusual costumes and sounds may be overly stressful to some pets, causing them to act defensively or aggressively.
  • Remember that candy isn’t good for pets to consume, and chocolate in any amount is deadly to them. Buy a bag of pet treats and keep it handy in case they beg for candy.
  • Make sure all candy and wrappers are out of the reach of pets. Candy wrappers can become stuck in a pet’s digestive tract, causing illness and even death.
  • Remember, large dogs can easily clear a coffee table with one swoop of their tails, so keep fragile items and candles in safe, elevated places. 
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