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October 31st is a fun time for many kids, running around in costumes and getting free candy. It's also a potentially dangerous time and adults and children should be mindful of these safety tips to ensure a safe and happy Halloween!

Safety Tips for Children and Their Costumes

Halloween candy safetyFollowing these safety tips for picking out costumes can make trick or treating safer for your children and for motorists on the road.

Vision - make sure your costume does not impair vision. Many costumes include masks but those masks don't always fit well. A mask that doesn't fit well can block the child's vision and cause accidents such as tripping down stairs or not seeing traffic when crossing the road.

Reflective - Costumes should also be easy to see in the dark. If the costume is dark in nature, consider adding reflective materials such as tape strips or even glow in the dark light wands. This will make seeing your child in the dark a bit easier and will also help motorists see children more easily as well.

Fire & Tripping Hazards - be mindful of the materials used on your child's costume and limit how much material flows freely and drags on the ground. Many pumpkins still use candles to light up and you want to make sure whatever costume you choose will not have dangling materials that can catch fire. You also want to make sure that the costume allows the child to run without tripping on their costume or getting tangled  up.

Safe Trick or Treating and Candy Inspections

Like most children, yours may wish to dip into their bag and grab a few sweet treats while doing all the hard work of trick or treating! It's important to communicate why an adult must first inspect the candy before a child eats it. There have been reports of candies being tampered with and even poisoned or containing foreign objects.

Some safety tips for inspecting Halloween candy are:

  • Home-made treats: Only allow your child to eat home-made treats if you know the person who gave out that candy treat. Even home-made treats with someone's address and phone number should be avoided. If you don't know and trust the person who made the treat, don't eat it.
  • Inspect packaging to ensure it's intact. Items like chips will be filled with air. If there is no air in the package it may have been tampered with so discard it.
  • Unwrapped candies: Certainly not too common anymore as many people realize they are not safe to eat. If your child receives any unwrapped items like chocolates, toffees etc, discard them. Even if they weren't tampered with, they are not very clean without protective wrapping.

The best way to inspect candy is to lay out a sheet in the living room after trick or treating is done and sort the candy with your child if he/she is old enough to understand. Explain what items are not acceptable and why (because they can make you sick etc.) and throw out any questionable items. If in doubt - throw it out.

Motorist Safety at Halloween

As a teen-ager or adult you may be busy running around, going to your evening job or heading out to your own Halloween party. You are driving in the dark and likely expect kids to be up and down the streets but be sure to drive extra carefully and watch for surprises.

Not all kids have reflective clothing and the excitement of the night may have some kids running right across the road without looking. It may be their fault for not looking or their parents for not watching them but if you are not careful, you will be the one to hit them and live with the guilt. Slow down on Halloween night and pay extra attention!

Going to Strangers' Houses on Halloween

Perhaps not the best message for our little kids: Go knock on a stranger's door, say hi and accept candy! This contradicts everything we try and teach our children about strangers! Explain Halloween and why it's special and why this type of behavior is acceptable ONLY on Halloween. Explain the holiday and that it's safe to do when the child is with mommy or daddy, but not when alone.

Regardless of age, make sure your child(ren) know to never, EVER, go inside a stranger's house! Even if they look nice or if they are friends of the family.

Sometimes, home owners will say "Oh, look at your costumes, how cute, come in while I grab the candy bowl."

It's polite and acceptable for children to say "No thanks, I'll just wait here (outside.) "

It is more common than you may think, for adults to do questionable things on Halloween night! Personally, as a child I remember many home-owners asking us to come inside out of the cold while they grabbed the Halloween candy bowl. I've had houses where some people tried taking photos of the kids and even one house that had a tripod and video recorder set up to tape all the kids coming to his door (creepy).

As an older child going out with my friends I also recall trick or treating homes that had parties underway and being offered cigarettes and alcohol and even being invited inside to party. I came from what most would consider a small-town, so be aware of these potential dangers and make sure your children know what to do in these scenarios.  They can happen anytime, anywhere to anyone. If your child things someone has behaved inappropriately encourage them to make note of the address and phone you (or come home and tell you).

Peanut Safety at Halloween

Many children are allergic to peanuts but Halloween can still be a fun time for them. The company, Nestle, for example is all peanut-free. Nestle makes a variety of chocolate bars like Coffee Crisp and Kit Kat and ice creams. Go through your child's candy to remove anything that may contain peanuts in them.

When choosing your own Halloween candy to give out, keep the nut allergy in mind and try and stick with items that are peanut-free. If you wish to have various brands of candy, consider keeping a nut-free bowl of candy for those special requests!

As for your child with nut-allergies, encourage him to ask for nut-free brands (such as Nestle) if she/he sees that some are available. If the nut allergy is severe, which often it is, be sure your child has their Epi-Pen with them and that someone they are with knows how to use it and who to call in case of emergency.

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