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Archive for October, 2009

TIPS FOR A SAFE AND HAPPY HALLOWEEN

Halloween is a happy, fun-filled holiday for families and provides inspiration for children to express creativity and manners!  Parents balance this enthusiastic learning opportunity, however, by providing safe and dependable environments – both at home and “on the trick-or-treat road.”

 

Pumpkin Decorating

Encourage your children to participate in pumpkin decorating activities.

  • A child-friendly and safe alternative to pumpkin carving is to provide children with markers or paint to decorate their pumpkins.
  • Use child-drawn outlines to carve the family pumpkins.  This is a ‘parent-only’ activity and should be conducted on a flat, stable surface.
  • Children can help remove the pumpkin insides using their hands or scoops. Clean up the messes as you go – slimy pumpkin insides can cause slipping hazards.
  • Use small, battery-operated lights designed for carved pumpkins in lieu of candles.  
  • Families who choose to illuminate their pumpkins with candles should use votives or tea-light candles. 
  • Candlelit pumpkins should never be left unattended and should be placed on sturdy surfaces, away from flammable objects.

 

Costumes

Children should let their imaginations go – this is the ultimate creative activity!  Resist ‘buying’ a boxed costume for your children (and don’t be afraid that you’ll have to roll out grandma’s sewing machine). In order to make costumes safe, consider the following:

  • Costumes, masks, beards, wigs and other accessories should be flame resistant.
    • Masks may obstruct vision and could restrict breathing. Consider applying face paint or cosmetics instead.
    • Ensure masks fit securely and have eyeholes large enough to allow full vision.
    • Avoid hats that could slide over children’s eyes.
    • Knives, swords or similar costume accessories should not be sharp or rigid; rather they should be made of soft, flexible materials.
  • Avoid loose, baggy or long costumes to prevent tripping.
  • Children should wear sturdy, fitted footwear – oversized shoes and mother’s high heels are not ideal for safe walking.
  • Trim costumes and trick-or-treat bags with reflective tape to make them visible to motorists.

 

Treats!

Before the ‘treats,’ plan an easy and filling dinner.  Pasta with veggies or macaroni and cheese with a salad will fill tummies before the evening takes off. 

 

You’ll remember this one, “Do not eat any candy until you bring it home and we have thoroughly inspected it.”  Times haven’t changed much – same credo for your children! 

  • All treats should be carefully examined by adults for evidence of tampering. Any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items should be discarded.

 

Interested in making the evening more memorable and less scrutinized for the children in your neighborhood?  Be a role model:

  • Avoid distributing treats considered choking hazards (e.g., gum, peanuts, hard candies and small toys).
  • Non-food giveaways such as coloring books, notepads, stickers, crayons and toothbrushes are all good ‘candy’ alternatives.

 

Trick-or-Treating

Trick-or-Treating is a two-way street.  Neighbors are responsible for each others’ children and parents are responsible for their own children.

 

Your Children’s Safety:

  • Young children should always be accompanied by parents or other responsible adults.
  • All children and escorts should carry flashlights with fresh batteries.
  • Only homes with outside lights ‘on’ should be visited.
  • If you allow older children to go trick-or-treating with a group of friends, discuss safety precautions and agree upon a specific time when they should return home.
  • Remind children to stay on sidewalks and not to cross through yards or between parked cars, to only approach well-lit homes and to never enter a home or car for a treat.

 

Your Neighborhood’s Safety:

  • Prepare your home to receive trick-or-treaters.  Clear your lawn, sidewalk, steps and porch of obstacles or potential tripping hazards.
  • Sweep wet leaves away from stairs and walkways to prevent slipping.
  • Candlelit pumpkins should be kept away from areas where costumes could brush against flames.
  • Pets should be restrained to keep children from being jumped upon or bitten.

 

After-Party

Host a post-‘treating’ event at your home.  Invite neighbors (parents and children) and serve hot chocolate and dessert.  This is a wonderful opportunity to socialize and build memories!

 

Additional Resources: The American Academy of Pediatrics (www.aap.org), National Safety Council (www.nsc.org) and U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (www.cpsc.gov).