Want your Halloween to be safe and not scary? It seems like only last year that I shared, or should I say scared, some Halloween safety tips with parents. This year, I’m unmasking tips and tricks directly to children so that Halloween is far from frightening when it comes to staying safe.
• See and Be Seen. First, make sure you can see through your costumes and be seen! This means to avoid masks or oversized hats, since they can reduce your ability to see. Using hypoallergenic face paints can be a good alternative. Put reflective tape or a glow-in-the-dark necklace on your costumes, so others can see you moving through the neighborhood at night. Avoid swords and other props that can get in your way and make sure you are wearing shoes that fit.
• Buddy Up! If you are over the age of 10 and going out without your parents, take at least two friends with you. Carry a flashlight, watch and a cell phone, if possible, and walk, don’t run. Make sure your costumes don’t drag on the ground. Stay on the sidewalk and if there is no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the road facing traffic.
• Plan Ahead. Work with your parents to plan your route in advance and how long you will be out, especially if they are not going with you. Approach only houses that are lit, be very cautious of strangers and strange pets, never go inside a house of someone you don’t know, and don’t forget to say thanks when you do get a treat.
• Eat Dinner. Speaking of treats, remember to eat a great dinner before going out to fill you up, so you don’t start eating your treats until you and your parents have had a chance to inspect everything and make sure it’s safe to eat. This is especially important if you have a food allergy or get a treat that might be a choking hazard for a smaller sibling who discovers it. Get rid of anything that looks unwrapped or tampered with. Remember – when in doubt, throw it out.
• Consider a Trade. If you are concerned about how healthy or non-healthy eating all that candy can be, you may want to consider either selling or trading it back to your parents in exchange for a special outing or activity you would love to do with them. This way, your parents can give you back the candy on special occasions in the months ahead.
Hopefully, safety tips like these will not allow you to make any “boo-boos”; and make Halloween a treat for you, your friends, and family to enjoy.
Lewis First, MD, is Chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and NBC5.