Thursday, October 13, 2011

Happy Healthy Halloween!

by Cheryl Ledford

Fall is upon us, and for many school-aged children, the plans for Halloween costumes are already in the works. While the holiday is best known for its spooks, planning ahead can help prevent the night from becoming unnecessarily scary.  Here are some tips to keep Halloween safe and fun.

Getting ready:
-          Help your child decide on an appropriate costume. Discourage costumes that may be perceived as too scary or disrespectful.
-          If using accessories such as swords and wands, use soft, pliable materials to prevent injury to your little pirate and their friends.
-          Instead of masks, use face paints that are intended for skin, and test a small area of skin first to look for reactions.
-          If wearing a mask, be sure your child is able to see well, even to both sides.  Also check the child’s ability to hear if the mask covers the ears.
-          Make sure the costume fits and is easy to get out of. Look for fire resistant, bright colored fabrics.
-          While mom’s high heels may be tempting, help your little princess find shoes that fit well to prevent falls and twisted ankles.
Before you go:
-          Be sure there is a responsible adult accompanying each group of children while trick-or-treating.
-          Have your little ghouls eat a large meal before they leave to trick-or-treat to avoid the temptation of eating candy before you have inspected it.
-          If you feel comfortable allowing your teenager to go without an adult, consider arranging check-in times either by phone or in person. Know whom they will be with and what time you expect them home.
-          Plan a route for your children to follow, reminding them only to stop at homes that have exterior lights on.
-          Instruct your child to never go into the home of a stranger, even if invited inside. Review with your child what to do if approached by a stranger.  If you have particular concerns about your neighborhood, consider checking a sex-offender registry before donning costumes.
While you are out:
-          Carry a flashlight and glow sticks, both to see and be seen.
-          Use reflective tape on children’s costumes, especially if they are dark colored.
-          Always stay on the sidewalks. If you live in an area without a sidewalk, walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic.
-          Practice street safety: Look both ways, hold hands, and only cross at crosswalks.
When you return:
-          Inspect candy before allowing your children to keep it. Look for evidence of tampering.
-          Be aware of choking risks. Keep hard candies, candy wrappers, and very small candies away from younger children.
-          Limit sugar consumption by keeping candy out of children’s rooms or play areas. Set firm rules on how many pieces of candy they may have each day and when, and stick to it. 

Keep these tips in mind for a safe, fun, and not-too-scary Halloween!