It’s Halloween! Children (and many adults) look forward it to for weeks; the chance to be someone else for a day, to roam the neighborhood looking for the best candy, and to enjoy spooky decorations all around town.
It’s a delicate balance to keep Halloween mysterious and fun, but to also keep safety a first and foremost priority. New Canaan Pediatrics is here to help your family enjoy the day without accidents, meltdowns or calamities.
Your child has likely been brainstorming their costume for weeks, and it might be anything from a super hero to a carrot. The costume is the show-stopper for kids at Halloween but you also want to keep safety and practicality in mind. Your kids should be able to move freely and easily get in and out of their costume when they need to use the bathroom. Some other considerations for costumes are:
Make up vs Mask. Eliminate the possibility of their vison being restricted with a mask and consider using make up instead. Look for child-safe options at your local costume store, test them on a small patch of your child’s skin to screen for allergies or irritants before the big day, and follow YouTube tutorials that make turning your child into a zombie a snap.
Wigs and hats are accessories to use with caution. Oversized wigs and hats can become vision hazards. If a costume absolutely requires them, make sure they fit properly, are securely attached with clips or barrettes to your child’s head and are pinned away from the face and eyes to keep vision clear. As Edna Mode from The Incredibles reminds us, “No capes.” Capes, as Edna points out, lead to a number of avoidable accidents. While your children are not likely to be sucked into an engine turbine, capes are tripping and choking hazards. They can also be used by meaner goblins to pull and harass your child. So, “no capes.”
Keep colors bright. Statistics prove that Halloween is the deadliest day of the year for child pedestrians. Make sure that your child is wearing bright colors, reflective tapes or stripes, and is equipped with flash lights while trick-or-treating to ensure that they are easily seen at all times.
Consider the temperature. Here in Connecticut, you can spend hours upon hours creating a costume, just to cover it up in a heavy coat if the temperatures dip. Instead, consider a costume that is made or bought a size larger than is needed so children can layer clothes underneath their outfit. You can also incorporate outwear into the costume; a fancy dress worn over a princess gown or a few extra layers of clothes to help build out super hero muscles. Encourage your child’s input and cooperation so the costume is just right, there are no arguments and your child isn’t frozen to the bone on Halloween night.
Shoes should be made for walking. Bare feet, flip flops, high heels, or clunky boots that are difficult to walk in will make Halloween – and quite possibly the next few weeks – just miserable. Your children should wear comfortable gym shoes, or winter boots if it’s snowing and slushy, for safety and comfort.
Say “no” to weapons – and anything that can be used as a weapon. Your child may argue “Who is Thor without his hammer?” and while you may privately agree with this sentiment, it is certainly not worth the risk. Halloween is exciting, children are rambunctious, and when the gaiety begins, even your older children will struggle with impulse control. Having a plastic version of Thor’s hammer, a knight’s sword, a cane, an umbrella, or a fireman’s axe is an invitation for an accidental (or intentional) injury.
Heroes or villains who carry guns with them in their stories should never carry prop guns with them on Halloween. In dim lighting, some people may mistake a toy firearm for the real thing and act before investigating with tragic results. For the safety of your child and all those around them that day, do not allow any type of toy firearm to be part of their costume.
Stick to your own neighborhood or a familiar area to stay safe. You may feel at ease supervising your younger kids in unfamiliar neighborhoods, but older, unchaperoned children should be required to stay in a tight, very familiar zone.
Parents often struggle with the decision to let their child go off with friends. Letting your child trick-or-treat without you depends on your child, the group they want to trick-or-treat with, and your comfort level. If you are well-acquainted with the group of friends (and their parents) your child wants to join and you know their route, you may be comfortable staying home and passing out your own candy. However, if your child asks to go with peers you’ve never heard of, in a neighborhood that is new or unfamiliar to you, trust your instincts, say “no” and help your child come up with another plan.
When your child is allowed to go out unsupervised, stress that they must adhere to these broad safety rules:
- You will need to know everyone in the group
- You will need to know their route/neighborhoods in advance
- If they are going with another adult, you need to know that adult and have their contact information
- If they are going alone, consider adding a tracking app to their phone. Require regular, scheduled check-ins and stress that they must answer your calls or texts within a reasonable time frame
- Do not enter any house
- Do not accept a ride from anyone, unless they have heard from you confirming this arrangement
- Curfew is not negotiable
- All treats collected need to be examined by you before they are consumed – even for teenagers.
Be Safe and Have Fun
New Canaan recommends your family avoid tricks this Halloween by thinking ahead and laying out rules in advance. If you have any questions about Halloween safety, please message us through your patient portal. We would be happy to help!