Keeping the kids safe on Halloween
by Sherrie Norris
From organizations including The Children's Council of Watauga County, the National Fire Protection Association, and Safe Kids Worldwide, there is plenty of good advice available to make sure this year's event is one to remember -- for all the right reasons.
Keep Costumes Creative and Safe
- When choosing a costume, stay away from billowing or long, trailing fabric and make sure the costume is the right size to prevent trips and falls.
- If making costumes, choose material that won't easily ignite if it comes into contact with heat or flame. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eye-holes are large enough so they can see out.
- Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors.
- Choose face paint and makeup whenever possible instead of masks, which can obstruct a child's vision.
- For a frugal Halloween, sew together a costume for your child if you are thread-and-needle happy, and use items from the kitchen to create makeup. For example, for face paint, all you need is a little cold cream, water, cornstarch, and food coloring, all which can be found in your home.
- Keep your children's costumes age-appropriate.
- Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
- Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross.
- Keep heads up; walk, don't run, across the street.
- Teach children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.
- Always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible. Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest street crossings.
- Teach children to never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars and to watch for cars that are turning or backing up.
- Provide children with glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers.
Trick or Treat With an Adult
- Children younger than the age of 12 should not be allowed to trick-or-treat without adult supervision. If 12 or older, and mature enough to go without supervision, they should stick to familiar areas that are well lit and stay together as a group and walk from house to house.
- Inspect the treats your child receives, being especially cautious with open wrappers or homemade food items such as candy apples.
- For toddlers, chewy candies, like gum, taffy, and peanuts should not be eaten because they are potential choking hazards.
Precautions for Drivers
- Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move quickly and in unpredictable ways.
- Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
- Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
- Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
- Drive slowly, anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn your headlights on earlier in the day to spot children from greater distances.
- Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for children during those hours.
Keep Home Decorations from becoming a hazard
- Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations well away from all open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.
- A flashlight or battery-operated candle in a Jack-o-lantern is recommended instead of a real candle, but if using candles, be extremely cautious.
- When lighting candles inside Jack-o-lanterns, use long fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter. Be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn and far enough out of the way of trick-or-treaters, doorsteps, walkways and yards.
- Remember to keep exits clear of decorations to prevent blocking escape routes.
- Encourage children to stay away from open flames. Be sure they know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire. (Have them practice stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with hands, and rolling over and over to put the flames out.)
- If your children are planning to attend Halloween parties at others' homes, have them look for ways out of the home and plan how they would get out in an emergency.
For more safety information, visit http://www.nfpa.org or
http://www.safekids.org.; to learn more about the Children's Council of Watauga County, visit http://www.thechildrenscouncil.org.