When I was growing up in Mobile, I remember we used to always run as fast as we could to Old Man Johnson’s house on Halloween as soon as it would get dark. Not because of cool prizes or scary decorations, but because he always left out a huge bowl of Tootsie Rolls and you were only supposed to take one, but we pretty much took them all. And I’m pretty sure we ran across the street without looking both ways, ate candy without having it checked by our parents and wore dark costumes so that no one could see us running through the neighborhood. Now looking back, we were not the most Halloween safety conscious, so today, we are going to review some of these ideas and review a favorite pastime of mine, pumpkin carving.
First, let’s get prepared to go! The costume for your child needs to be bright and reflective and make sure it’s not too long so they won’t trip over it or catch it on any decorations. Be sure to read the label on your child’s costumes, wigs, and accessories to be sure they are non-flammable. Also be careful with masks. They need to fit well over the head and face so that the child has good peripheral vision and can see the car coming down the road as they are about to cross the street. I would consider non-toxic face paint as an alternative to the masks or hats. Be sure that any swords or canes are not sharp and not too long so the kids don’t trip and hurt themselves. Get some reflective tape and place it on part of the costume and on the candy bag so that every car can see your child, and have several flashlights ready with new batteries so they can spot trouble on their trip. Finally, be sure to eat a good meal before you trick -or-treat, so the kids (and adults) don’t gorge themselves on candy during and after your adventure.
OK, we are ready to go, so first, have a responsible adult or older child whom you trust go with the kids. Every year I see young kids running around my neighborhood with no supervision and just cringe at the thought of someone taking them, or them getting hurt without anyone knowing. Next, if it’s older children who are going, then plan out a route for them to take and plan on a time that they should return home. Make sure that you only go to houses that are well lit and be sure that they know to never enter a home or car to get a treat. Travel in a group and follow some basic rules. First, stay on the sidewalk and if no sidewalk, then on the very outside of the road. Second, always cross the street together and at appropriate crosswalks or corners (not darting between cars). Finally, assume that cars cannot see you or your child and allow them to pass before crossing the street. When you are back home, be sure to check all of the kids’ candy. While tampering, thankfully, is rare, it’s still a good idea to throw out any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious looking items. Also throw out any choking hazards and please, try to limit candy intake!
Finally, let’s talk about pumpkin carving. While it’s a lot of fun to do it with the kids, let’s review some common sense items. So, rule number one, don’t let the child hold a knife. I know this seems silly, but every year kids end up in the ER with cuts on their hands from handling a knife. Just let them have a marker and draw what they want! When lighting up the pumpkins, use votive candles and be sure to keep them on sturdy tables away from flammable objects like curtains. Check out resources on aap.org and CDC.org, have a great Halloween and go scare someone!