Health Notes

Carve Out Time for Halloween Safety

by Dr. Cindy Janssen on October 24, 2014

One week from now, our streets will be overrun with pint-sized princesses, cowboys and zombies. Even the tiniest of the undead will all thirst for…. candy.

As you are carving out your Halloween plans, this Omaha physician has a plea for you to put some extra thought behind safety. Tricks-or-treats are meant to be fun, so here are a just few ideas from the American Academy of Pediatrics to keep it that way:

Clever Costumes Count

  • Sure, costumes are meant to be cute or scary, but make it easy for oncoming traffic to see your trick-or-treater with some bright or reflective colors. Add reflective tape to costumes or candy bags.
  • Avoid tripping hazards by cutting costumes away from your child’s feet.
  • Floppy hats, head coverings and masks can block your child’s vision. Opt for non-toxic, scary make-up instead.
  • If your child has a costume prop such as a sword or cane, make sure it isn’t too long or sharp.
  • Make sure any costumes, wigs or accessories are flame resistant. And just to be sure, keep kids away from any open flames such as candle-lit pumpkins.

Spook ‘Em Safely

  • Speaking of pumpkins, keep sharp knives away from small children. Let them draw on pumpkins with markers or paint. Let the grown-ups do any cutting.
  • Use a glow stick or battery-operated light to illuminate your pumpkin. If you use a candle, a small votive is the safest. Candle-lit pumpkins should be placed someplace sturdy and away from any flammable objects like curtains. They should NEVER be left unattended.
  • Remove any objects from your front yard or porch that could be trip hazards for trick-or-treaters. Keep any Halloween decorations off the main path and sweep off your sidewalks and steps.
  • Keep pets hidden away or on a leash so they don’t jump on or bite any ghoulish guests.

The Trick-or-Treat Trail

    • Parents or responsible adults should ALWAYS tag along with young kids collecting their Halloween candy.
    • Only allow children go to homes with a porch light on and never allow them to go into a home or car to get their treat.
Cindy Janssen, MD, Methodist Physicians Clinic

Cindy Janssen, MD

  • Older children out on their own on Halloween night should carry a cell phone if possible. Make sure they communicate where they are going, when they will return, and any activities planned.
  • Stay on streets that are well-lit and always use the sidewalk – never cut across alleyways or lawns. Carry a flashlight to watch for any potential trip hazards.
  • Only cross the street in designated crosswalks and never in between parked cars. Traffic has a tough time seeing trick-or-treaters, so make sure children look both ways before crossing.
  • Notify police right away if you see any suspicious or dangerous activity. Halloween vandalism is never okay.

Safety before the Snack

  • We’ve heard it all before, but parents should inspect all candy before allowing a child to indulge. Avoid homemade treats not in store packaging.
  • Feed your child a healthy meal before any parties or trick-or-treating and discourage them from overdoing it on candy.

A new tradition gaining some ground this year will make Halloween less scary for children with food allergies. Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) is encouraging homes to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project. Homes displaying a teal pumpkin outside will offer non-food treats or those that are allergy-free. Some ideas include pencils, bouncy balls, coins, stickers or spider rings. I certainly encourage families to keep children with food allergies in mind when offering holiday goodies.

Click here to download a free sign from FARE indicating your home offers allergy-free Halloween treats.

Halloween should be a fun season for kids of all ages. Do your part to help make this one a little less frightening and a little more fun for all.

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