For many children, Halloween is one of the most exciting days of the year. Throughout October, they look forward to the costumes, the candy, the decorations and parties.
However, Halloween can also be a time when children are prone to accidents or injuries. A few precautions can make your family’s Halloween both fun and safe.
Carving the pumpkin: The jack-o’-lantern is the most recognizable symbol of Halloween. When cleaning out the pumpkin, the floor is the safest place to be. The insides of a pumpkin are very slippery, so sitting on the floor can prevent falls. Spread out some newspapers or old towels to catch the mess. Let children clean out the pumpkin with their hands or a sturdy spoon.
Let young children draw a face or design on the pumpkin and then leave the carving to a grown-up. Remember to put knives out of reach when not in use.
Instead of a regular candle to light the completed jack-o’-lantern, choose a flameless candle, a flashlight or a glow stick.
Choosing a costume: Keep your child’s comfort and safety in mind when choosing a costume. Oversized or high-heeled shoes are fun for playing dress-up, but are not practical for long treks over uneven sidewalks. Dresses, cloaks or capes should be short enough that your child will not trip over them.
Choose face paint over a mask if possible. If your child does wear a mask, be sure that the openings at the eyes and nose are large enough for good visibility and air flow. Check the fit on hats or wigs so they are not blocking your child’s vision.
If your child is wearing a dark costume, add some reflective tape to the front and back.
Since the weather can be unpredictable at this time of year, costumes should be large enough to fit several layers of warm clothing underneath.
Trick or treating: Start trick or treating early in the evening to take advantage of the last bit of daylight. When going out with small children, be aware of their limitations. Visits to several neighbours, friends and family members’ homes usually provide enough excitement for babies or toddlers. Preschoolers may be able to cover the whole block. Halloween should be fun, so watch for cues that your little one has had enough.
When older children are trick or treating without you, have a plan in place before they set out. Map out a route together, so they know where they can go and you know where they are. They need to make arrangements beforehand to go with friends, and stay with the group the entire time. Remind them to be aware of traffic, and to cross the street only at corners. Make sure they know they should only visit homes that have lights on at the door. You might want to send along a cellphone for your own peace of mind.
Do your part to keep the community’s children safe. Ensure that your sidewalk is clean and clear, and your doorstep is well lit for trick or treaters. If you are driving, pay close attention to the children rushing up and down the sidewalks and be ready to stop if someone should dart out into the street.
Keep safety in mind as you and your family enjoy a fun-filled Halloween night!
Shawna Munro works at the Elspeth Reid Family Resource Centre, a facility of Child and Family Services of Western Manitoba that offers parenting information and support.
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