With Halloween around the corner, families can make plans to stay safe and healthy during the evening’s festivities.
Laura Whittington, D.O., a pediatrician at Sanford Health, shares some of her advice for parents of young children trick-or-treating this year.
1. Drive safely
On average, kids are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than any other day of the year, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. Safety tips for drivers:
- Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods.
- Watch out for kids crossing mid-block, especially excited kids who might dart into the street.
- Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
- Keep phones down so you are not distracted.
- Turn on headlights early in the day to spot kids better.
2. Walk this way
Trick-or-treating kids should also be aware of car traffic. Be street smart:
- Make sure your kids always look both ways before crossing a street and know when it’s safe to cross.
- Always choose sidewalks or paths.
- Carry glow sticks or flashlights to help you see as it gets dark.
- Decorate costumes and bags with bright tape or stickers.
- Choose face paint or makeup instead of a mask, which may block kids’ vision.
- Check that costumes are the right size to prevent trips and falls.
3. Be food safe
There are several things to keep in mind when it comes to food safety at Halloween.
- Wash your hands before handling treats.
- For young trick-or-treaters, parents should go through the candy that was collected and remove any of the harder, smaller candies that could present a choking hazard.
- If younger children do receive smaller or hard candy, have them exchange it with older siblings or friends, so everyone gets something they enjoy and can eat.
- Parents should also be looking to see if anything is opened, spoiled or homemade and throw it out. Make sure everything is pre-packaged.
- Parents of kids with food allergies should thoroughly examine their children’s candy and remove any that may contain traces of allergens.
- People who hand out treats may consider taking part in the Teal Pumpkin Project. Instead of passing out candy, they pass out non-food Halloween treats and mark their home as allergy-friendly with a teal pumpkin in front.
4. Carve carefully
Your Jack-o’-Lantern may be more than scary — it could be dangerous. Pumpkin carving is the leading cause of injuries associated with Halloween, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- When carving your pumpkin, use a carving kit or knives specifically designed for the task, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons advised.
- Carve pumpkins in a clean, dry and well-lit area, and make sure there is no moisture on the carving tools or your hands.
- If someone suffers a cut, apply pressure with a clean cloth and elevate the injured area above the heart. If bleeding does not stop within 10 to 15 minutes or if the cut is deep, you may need to see a doctor, the academy noted. Make sure cuts are cleaned and covered with clean bandages.
5. Review stranger danger
Finally, it’s important for children to stay in areas that are safe.
- If possible, stick to neighborhoods you know.
- Only go to homes with the lights on.
- Never go inside someone’s house. Just politely decline if someone asks.
- Kids under the age of 12 should always have a parent with them. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, make sure they have a buddy and a form of communication with them.
Even if you’re not going trick-or-treating, there are lots of other ways to celebrate with the whole family. Try a Halloween movie night, a household scavenger hunt, crafts and cooking.
- Teal pumpkins show trick-or-treaters allergy-free options
- Sugar crash effects and how to fix them
- Teach your preschooler to be ‘stranger smart’