Next to their own birthday and Christmas morning, there’s little that kids anticipate as anxiously as Halloween. And why shouldn’t they? With fall carnival rides, pumpkins to carve, huge quantities of delicious, sticky goodies, and a few thrill-giving scares, Halloween has all the makings of a childhood favorite. Even some grown-ups grow secretly giddy when volunteering to lead the neighborhood trick-or-treat group. And the most important question to answer in the weeks leading up to the 31st of October? What should I go as?
Of course, kids have their own set of priorities when answering this question: which costume will get the most candy, give the most scares, or be the best on the block. As adults, it’s so important to also consider Halloween costume safety. A few reminders about protecting our kids can help guarantee that this is a Halloween everyone in your family will want to remember for years to come.
The Real Spooks on Halloween Night?
According to reports by US Consumer Product Safety Commission, “Halloween Safety: Safety Alert” and another by the University of Michigan Health System, “Expert Offers Tips for Picking Safe Halloween Costumes” on Halloween safety, the three primary dangers relate directly to costume choice. Children are most likely to be injured on Halloween by tripping and falling, receiving a serious burn, or being involved in a pedestrian accident. Due to the large numbers of children who will be out trick-or-treating after dark and wearing dark clothes, our kids are four and a half times more likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than on any other night out of the year. Keeping these very real dangers in mind can help us make simple and smart choices to keep them safe. Here are some tips to avoid them.
Safety First When Choosing or Making a Costume
When it comes to avoiding a traffic accident, we cannot be careful enough and we have to give our kids every opportunity to look out for themselves. Avoid buying hard, plastic masks. Most of these masks cover the whole head and leave only small openings for the eyes and mouth. Besides making it harder for the wearer to breathe, these masks often cover the ears and block out peripheral vision. This seriously impairs the wearer’s ability to notice approaching traffic and limits how they can respond in a truly dangerous situation.
Instead of masks, try face paint! From pirates to princesses, from Christmas Angels to Santa’s Elves, from Indiana Jones to Dora the Explorer, there are endless costume ideas out there that involve no masks at all.
Make sure that motorists have every opportunity to see you and yours. Choose bright colored costumes, costumes with sparkles, lights, or glitter. If the preferred costume is dark, make sure to add reflective tape to increase visibility. Wear white sneakers with reflective highlights or add reflective tape to shoes. Also, pass out flashlights to your party and make sure the batteries are good.
Even Halloween Ghouls Need To Look Both Ways
Finally, as the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Talk to your kids about traffic safety. The magical feeling of Halloween night can create a sense of invincibility, but that won’t protect them from an oncoming car. Remind them to look both ways and only cross at corners (young trick-or-treaters have the bad habit of dashing right across the road). Discourage older children from riding their bikes as they might crash into walkers or put themselves at greater risk by riding in the road. Dangling costumes might also get caught in bike gears and cause an accident.
It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses an Eye
Before the big night, make sure your child has a wide range of motion in their costume. Let them try on their costume before Halloween and let them play in it. Kids will love the opportunity to dress up ahead of time and you’ll get a chance to make sure that they can run and play safely in their disguise. It’s also a good idea to have your kids trick-or-treat in their tennis shoes rather than having them wear costume shoes that might be uncomfortable or dangerous. Especially our little girls who want to be fairy princesses for the night are best off in comfy play shoes, not high heels.
We say don’t run with scissors for a reason! Falling down with or on something sharp can lead to a serious injury. While no Captain Jack Sparrow is complete without a sword and no Hermione Granger is complete without a wand, these should not be stiff or sharp objects in your child’s hand. Make sure that all your child’s accessories are made of a soft and bendy plastic and have rounded edges.
Finally, it might be a good idea to have a talk with your posse about trick-or-treating etiquette. Remind them that there’s plenty of candy for everyone, so there should be no need to run or shove.
Fiery Jack-O-Lanterns – Not a Laughing Matter
Avoiding Burn Injuries:
When you check out your child’s mobility in their costume, also take a look for any loose fabric that might be dragging the ground. Be certain to hem edges or fringe that might catch a low flame like a jack-o-lantern candle.
Also, when picking a Halloween costume, don’t forget to read the label! Even if your child is convinced that they’ve found the one, don’t take it home without first checking to make sure that it will keep them safe from burn injuries. The costume should say that it is either “flame resistant” or “flame retardant.” According to the experts, 100% polyester is the safest choice. Avoid 100% cotton which burns quickly and doesn’t allow adults enough time to respond to a child in distress.
Again, make sure you talk to your kids about keeping an eye out for jack-o-lanterns or other flaming decorations. Reminding everyone, including yourself, to be vigilant is the best protection. Even better than a flame resistant costume is not having to rely on that label at all.
Enjoy the Boo! Avoid the Boo-Hoo!
Keeping the dangers in mind can only lead to a safer Halloween experience. Make sure you set a curfew for older kids and plan a route for trick-or-treating with your youngest. Don’t let a careless and avoidable mistake spoil the life-long memory of a fun Halloween! Happy and safe trick-or-treating!
About the Author: Angela Lytle is a self-employed mother of four and publisher of Christmas-Decorations-Online.com, a website featuring holiday decorations from artificial Christmas trees to outdoor Christmas lights.