Sarah Zgainer, MSN, C-PNP is the Inova Children’s Urgent Care Assistant Director. Inova offers specialized pediatric urgent care services at our Manassas, Dulles South, Reston, Tyson’s Corner, and West Springfield urgent care centers. All staff is cross-trained in pediatric emergency medicine. Click here to learn more about Inova Children’s Urgent Care services.
It’s that time of year when the leaves are changing colors, weather is getting cooler, and the magic of Halloween is right around the corner. While Halloween is an exciting time for children to dress up in their costumes and trick-or-treat for sweets, let’s do everything we can to keep our children safe this year.
Here are some helpful safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to allow everyone to have a save and enjoyable evening.
Halloween costume safety tips
- Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Even consider adding reflective tape to their costumes and trick-or-treat bags for visibility.
- Make sure shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping.
- Make sure your child can see. Masks and costumes shouldn’t block vision.
- Make sure costumes are not flammable.
- Do not wear decorative contact lenses.
Pumpkin carving safety
- Small children should never carve pumpkins. Allow them to draw faces with markers and parents can do the cutting.
- Consider using a flashlight or glow stick to light your pumpkin.
- Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table and away from flammable objects, do not place in the path where visitors pass close by, and do not leave unattended.
Home safety for trick-or-treat night
- Keep a clear walkway for trick-or-treaters to visit your house to avoid children tripping.
- Ensure all your home outdoor lighting is working properly.
- Ensure pets are restrained so that they do not jump on children or run away.
- Wet leaves and snow should be swept away from walkways.
Trick-or-treating safety tips
- Parental supervision is a must
- Carry flashlights
- For older children, have a planned route, a way to reach you, and a specific time they should arrive home.
- Instruct children to only go to homes where the porch light is on and never go into someone’s home or car.
- Review with your children how to call 9-1-1 in case of emergency. Law enforcement should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.
Pedestrian safety tips for trick-or-treating on public streets
Pedestrian injuries, especially for children, are at their highest on Halloween. Remind trick-or treaters to:
- Stay in groups
- Have good communication of plans
- Wear reflective tape or other reflective gear
- Carry a cell phone for quick and easy communication
- Remain on well-lit streets and sidewalks
- If no sidewalk, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic
- Never cut across yards or alleys
- Only cross the street as a group in established cross walks. Never cross between parked cars or out of driveways.
- Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists may have a hard time seeing trick-or-treaters.
Food and candy tips
- A good meal prior to parties or trick-or-treating will discourage children from filling up on treats.
- Consider purchasing non-food items for those who visit your home, such as coloring books.
- Wait until children are at home to sort and check treats.
- Try to ration treats for the coming days and weeks after Halloween.
Halloween and food allergies
- Always read the ingredient label on treats. Many popular Halloween candies contain some of the most common allergens, such as peanuts or tree nuts, milk, egg, soy or wheat.
- If the ingredients aren’t listed, arrange for a treat “exchange” with classmates or friends. Or, bag up the goodies your child can’t eat because of an allergy and leave them with a note asking the “Treat Fairy” to swap them for a prize.
- Be aware that even if they are not listed on the ingredient label, candy is at high risk of containing trace amounts of common allergy triggers, because factories often produce many different products. Also, “fun size” or miniature candies may have different ingredients or be made on different equipment than the regular size candies, meaning that brands your child previously ate without problems could cause a reaction.
- Teach your child to politely turn down home-baked items such as cupcakes and brownies, and never to taste or share another child’s food.