Common Sense Tips to Staying Safe on Halloween

Posted October 22, 2009 in Consumer Law by

As a kid, Halloween was one of my favorite holidays. My friends and I would plan elaborate costumes, map out routes that were guaranteed to maximize our candy collections, and set off immediately after dinner to spend a few hours trick or treating. Our only rules: Don’t eat candy that looks tampered with, don’t eat fresh fruit and don’t eat homemade treats.

Halloween today bears little resemblance to the holiday I knew as a child of the 1970s, because today’s trick or treating incorporates many more common sense rules designed to keep kids safe.

If you have little ghosts and goblins who are anxiously awaiting the arrival of October 31, now is the time to start talking to them about Halloween’s ground rules, and make sure they understand how to stay safe when collecting candy.

Costumes

  • If you’re buying a costume–including wigs and accessories–make sure they are fireproof or fire retardant. If you’re making a costume, avoid flimsy pieces (such as long skirts or baggy sleeves) that could easily catch on fire.
  • If your child is wearing a mask, ensure the eye holes are large enough that your child can clearly see straight ahead and off to the sides. Consider makeup or face paint instead of a mask.
  • Avoid oversized costumes a child could easily trip over, or others could step on.
  • If your child’s costume includes accessories such as a wand, broomstick or knife, make sure that the accessory is flexible or will break easily if the child accidentally falls on it.
  • Add reflective tape to your child’s costume if they will be trick or treating after daylight hours, and have your child carry a flashlight.

While Trick or Treating

  • Younger children should be accompanied by an adult when trick or treating.
  • If your children are old enough to trick or treat without an adult, insist that they limit their visits to homes where they know the residents, and make sure you know the route they’ll be taking and establish a curfew.
  • Try to limit trick or treating to daylight hours.
  • Remind kids to observe basic safety rules such as staying on sidewalks, avoiding alleys and looking both ways before crossing the street.
  • Although it’s easy to get excited when trick or treating, kids should walk, not run, between houses.
  • Counsel your children to be courteous to homeowners, and avoid cutting across people’s lawns or through their back yards.
  • Although it’s called "trick or treating," no one likes a vandal. Make sure your kids understand that egging cars, toilet-papering house and other Halloween "tricks" are unacceptable.
  • Remind your children that they should never enter a stranger’s house or get in a car with a stranger.

For Homeowners

  • If you use candles in carved pumpkins, make sure the pumpkins are placed in a location where kids and animals won’t disturb them. Better yet, use battery-operated candles or glow sticks.
  • If you won’t be at home to hand out treats, turn off your porch lights.
  • Avoid distributing homemade treats, which are likely to be thrown out. If you’re opposed to distributing candy, consider coins, healthy alternatives or inexpensive Halloween toys. (If you’re giving out toys, avoid giving small items, which are possible choking hazards, to children aged 3 and younger.)
  • Remove any tripping hazards, such as flowerpots, on your driveway or sidewalk leading to your front door.

Enjoying the Treats

  • Instruct kids not to eat any treats until they’ve gotten home and you’ve had a chance to inspect the candy for evidence of possible tampering.
  • If your child has nut allergies, give them an extra reminder not to eat treats before you’ve had a chance to examine them.
  • If you have small children, make sure you’ve removed any treats that could be a choking hazard.

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