By Cindy Fortado-Clark, MD
With the little ones gearing up for another Halloween, parents should be mindful of costume malfunctions and other dangers. Keep these guidelines in mind to have a fun, safe holiday:
All Dressed Up
- Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
- Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.
- Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as “one size fits all,” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is dangerous.
- Fake eyelashes are another hazard. If not applied correctly, these items can cause pain, inflammation and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.
- Remove all makeup before bedtime to prevent skin irritation.
- Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.
- When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories, look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
- If a sword, cane or stick is a part of your child's costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long.
Carving a Niche:
- Small children should never carve pumpkins. Instead, have children draw a design with markers and let adults do the cutting.
- Use markers, paint or a pumpkin decorating kit without risk of handling sharp blade.
- Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
- Do not leave pumpkins in an area where they can easily be tipped over or tripped over.
On the Trick-Or-Treat Trail:
- Limit the route to houses and neighborhoods that the child is familiar with.
- A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds. Children under the age of 12 should not be alone at night without adult supervision.
- If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home. Do not let older children walk alone.
- Don't assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing trick-or-treaters. Just because one car stops doesn't mean others will!
- Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.
- Avoid hard candies like Jolly Ranchers that younger children can choke on.
- A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
- Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
- Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
- Try to ration treats for the days following Halloween. Make sure teeth are brushed after eating candy.
Note: Some information provided by American Academy of Pediatrics.