Health Break | Published October 29, 2007 | Written by Kathleen Matthews

Safety Trumps Tricks

Halloween is a favorite holiday for kids young and old, with its' jack-o-lanterns, witches, ghosts and goblins. However, the fun and excitement of costumes, trick-or-treating, and free candy can make children less careful. Avoid dangers to children while trick-or-treating by using some basic safety measures and common sense, being aware of potential dangers and taking precautions to eliminate them.

Plan costumes wisely, not only for uniqueness, but also comfort and safety, and try non-allergenic make-up instead of masks for better vision. If masks are used, make sure the mask and the costume are nonflammable, and check the length to avoid tripping and falling. Give children flashlights and add reflective tape to costumes to improve visibility.

Adults should accompany children who are not old enough to trick or treat with friends. Encourage older children to travel in groups and discuss the route they will follow, reinforcing only areas that they are familiar. Reinforce not going in to homes, and only go to houses that have their lights on. Warn children not to talk with strangers or get into cars. Be sure the oldest child has money for a telephone call or carry a cell phone.

Before children head out to go trick-or-treating, review basic street safety, such as:

  • cross at cross walks or corners only

  • no going between cars

  • no running back and forth across the streets

Remind children to watch for cars backing out of driveways.

Also consider animals, even familiar pets might be confused with the costumes and the extra excitement and not recognize you, leading to an animal bite.

Candy is a great part of the holiday, but there are important things to keep in mind. Reinforce not eating any candy or treats until it is brought home and checked. Throw away any unwrapped, loosely wrapped candy that appears to have puncture holes in the wrapper. Keep small hard candies away from younger children to prevent choking hazards. Watch the amount of candy that is eaten once the children get home. Too much candy can lead to bellyaches.

Use basic safety measures and common sense to make this Halloween fun, exciting and memorable.

Kathleen Matthews is a nurse in the emergency department at Mount Nittany Medical Center.