Kids Health Watch is brought to you by our friends and Magnolia Springs Pediatrics
Growing up in Mobile, I remember running as fast as we could to Old Man Johnson’s house as soon as it got dark. Not because of cool prizes or scary decorations, but because he always left out a massive bowl of Tootsie Rolls! We 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. Looking back, we were not the most Halloween-safety conscience generation, so today, we will 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. Please 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 masks or hats. Be sure that any swords or canes are not sharp and not too long, so kids don’t trip and hurt themselves. Get some reflective tape and place it somewhere on the costume and the candy bag so every car can see your child. Have several flashlights ready with new batteries to spot trouble on their trip. Finally, be sure to eat a good meal before trick-or-treating so the kids (and adults) don’t gorge themselves on candy during and after your adventure.
Next, have a responsible adult or older child you trust to go with the kids. Every year I see young kids running around my neighborhood with no supervision and cringe at the thought of someone taking them or them getting hurt without anyone knowing. Next, if it’s older children who are going, plan out a route for them to take and plan on a time that they should return home. Make sure they only go to houses that are well lit, and they know never to enter a home or car to get a treat. They should travel in a group and follow some basic rules. First, stay on the sidewalk, and if there is no sidewalk, then on the outside of the road. Second, always cross the street together at appropriate crosswalks or corners (not darting between cars). Finally, assume that vehicles cannot see you or your child and allow them to pass before crossing the street.
Once you are back home, be sure to check all of the kids’ candy. While tampering is rare, throwing out any spoiled, unwrapped, or suspicious-looking items is still a good idea. 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 with the kids, let’s review some common sense items. 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 the pumpkins, use votive candles and keep them on sturdy tables away from flammable objects like curtains.
Have a great Halloween!
Robert L. Rux, M.D. is a Board Certified Pediatrician at Magnolia Springs Pediatrics. Originally from Mobile, he attended medical school at The University of Alabama School of Medicine (UAB) and completed residency at The Children’s Hospital of Alabama (UAB).