An RN’s 17 tricks to make Halloween a treat
Halloween is a fun and exciting time for children. They get to dress up as pirates, princesses and monsters, and receive an overwhelming amount of candy.
Although Halloween activities should be fun and harmless, the weather, darkness and excitement of the night can create a dangerous situation for children.
Safe Kids East Central, led by the MCGHealth Children’s Medical Center, offers the following Halloween tricks you can use to make the holiday a treat for you and your children. Oh, and scroll down to the bottom for a special editor’s suggestion to avoid the post-Halloween sugar high:
1. Look for flame-resistant material when purchasing a costume, mask, wig or beard. Textile manufactures are no longer required by law to make costumes flame-retardant, so it’s up to you to help reduce the chance of fire-related injuries.
2. To minimize the risk of contact with candles or other sources of ignition, avoid costumes made with flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts.
3. Costumes should be short enough to prevent children from tripping and falling.
4. Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes.
5. Hats should be tied securely to prevent them from slipping over the child’s eyes, and avoid masks as they can impair a child’s vision. Makeup or nontoxic face paint is a better alternative.
6. Swords, knives and similar costume accessories should be made of soft and flexible material.
7. Costumes should be light and bright-colored so motorists can easily see the children.
8. Use reflectors or reflective tape to decorate costumes and goody bags. Remember, a car traveling at 60 mph needs 260 feet to stop completely. Reflectors make your child visible at 500 feet.
9. To easily see and be seen, children should carry flashlights.
10. Children ages 10 and under should not go out without adult supervision. If your child is old enough to go without an adult, let him borrow your cell phone in case of an emergency.
11. Children and teenagers should trick-or-treat in groups because there’s safety in numbers, and set a time when your children should return if not being accompanied by an adult.
12. Anyone hosting trick-or-treaters should make a point of clearing the yard of debris and marking a well-lit path to reduce the risk of falling. Avoid using candles or other open flames to mark paths and make sure your porch or doorway is clear of open flames.
13. Children should avoid trick-or-treating in unfamiliar areas, going only to homes where the residents are known and have their outside lights on as a sign of welcome.
14. Instruct your children to bring home all candy before eating it so that you can inspect it for tampering. To prevent children from munching on their candy, give them a snack or light meal before they go out.
15. Warn children not to accept or eat anything that isn’t commercially wrapped.
16. Parents of young children should also remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys.
17. SPECIAL EDITOR’S ADDITION: After all of the trick or treating, sit down with your kids and have them select a small number of “absolute must-have” candies. Put the rest of the candies by the open fireplace or front door. In the middle of the night, the “Switch Witch” will come, take the rest of the candy to her castle, and replace the candy with a small toy or book.
It’s important to keep in mind all aspects of your child’s safety when planning decorations, costumes, treats and activities. With simple precautions, you can ensure that Halloween remains a safe and happy experience for the whole family.
Rene Hopkins, RN, is the coordinator of Safe Kids East Central in Augusta, Georgia, which is led by MCG Health. MCG Health, Inc. (d/b/a MCGHealth) is a not-for-profit corporation operating the MCGHealth Medical Center, MCGHealth Children’s Medical Center, the Georgia Radiation Therapy Center, and related outpatient facilities and services throughout the state. For more information, please visit mcghealth.org.
By Rene Hopkins