Have a happy, healthy Halloween

halloween safety

Families who take part in Halloween festivities might be taking weeks to prepare—from decorating the house to choosing just the right costumes.

Here are some more suggestions to make the holiday as safe and healthy and possible.

Costumes and trick-or-treating
Depending on the rules and customs in your community, the young ones might participate in a big group gathering or in house-to-house trick-or-treating. In either case, make sure that each child’s costume is sized correctly and that there are no dangling bits of material that could get snagged and create a tripping or choking hazard.

“Pedestrian injuries are the most common for Halloween trick or treaters,” says Sandy Chung, MD, President of the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and community pediatrician affiliated with Inova. “It is extremely important for kids to travel with an adult, have lights or reflective tape on them, travel in groups, stay on sidewalks and well-lit areas, and avoid cutting across yards where hazards such as sprinklers or lawn equipment may not be visible.”

To allow the child to have good vision, it is preferable to use face paint rather than a mask. If they do choose a mask, make sure that the eye openings are wide and stable; the child should be able to clearly see any traffic or other trick-or-treaters during their outing.

In addition, keep accessories manageable. A magic wand, ninja sword or stethoscope might “make the outfit,” but be sure it doesn’t become too cumbersome while the child is playing games or gathering treats.

One add-on that is crucial for house-to-house trick-or-treaters who are old enough to be out after dusk is some sort of light source or reflective material. This will help any drivers in the area spot the revelers, especially those wearing dark clothing. Good options to increase their visibility are a small flashlight, a flashing bike lamp, reflective tape or snap-and-glow bracelets or necklaces. Fastening one or more of these onto an arm, ankle or goody bag means they won’t be dropped. 

Treats and goodies
Speaking of treats, discuss with children beforehand that they should bring home all treats for inspection before they gobble any up. You will want to make sure that nothing has been tampered with, plus it would be wise to ration out high-sugar treats over several days to reinforce healthier eating.

As for the treats you prepare for the ghosts and goblins coming to your door, think about having items with little or no sugar at all. Fruit leather or gummies made with fruit juice are a healthier choice, as are small snack-sized packets of crackers or pretzels. You might want to forego edible treats altogether and offer stickers or small toys; you can find a good selection at stores that sell party favors.

And, of course, you can present your visitors with a choice between snacks and favors. This will be especially welcome for kids who have allergies or other food sensitivities, but who still want to be part of the fun.

Inova offers specialized pediatric urgent care services at our Dulles SouthRestonTyson’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.

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