By: Rebecca Michelsen, M.Ed., MCHES
October has a lot of fun things for us to do with our children like apple picking, visiting a pumpkin patch or maybe going for a hayride. For some families, October is also a fun time to dress up in costumes, celebrate Halloween, and participate in local trick-or-treating events. In order to make sure everyone has a safe trick-or- treating experience, here are some things to keep in mind.
Choosing a costume
- Make sure to wear well-fitting costumes. Costumes should be large enough to wear extra warm layers underneath, but short enough that they aren’t a tripping hazard.
- If possible, use face paint instead of masks, since masks can sometimes block a child’s vision. Make sure to wash face paint off at the end of the day.
- Consider adding reflective tape or clothing to your costume if trick-or-treating at night.
- Make sure your child trick-or-treats with a trusted adult or, if your child is older, it can be helpful to encourage him/her to trick-or-treat in a group.
- Carry a flash light or glow sticks if trick-or-treating at night.
- Walk only on sidewalks. If there are no sidewalks, walk on the far edge of the road facing traffic.
- Look both ways when crossing the street and use cross walks when possible. Watch for cars that are turning or backing up. Teach children to never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
Pick treats wisely
- Before your child eats any of his/her candy, make sure to go through and check it. Dispose of anything with a ripped wrapper, looks like it has been tampered with or is homemade.
- Keep kids with food allergies in mind and think of offering treats that are nut-free (i.e. pretzels, fruit snacks, yogurt covered raisins) or even better, non-food treats (i.e. pencils, stickers, temporary tattoos). In fact, a movement called the Teal Pumpkin Project encourages families to paint a pumpkin teal and leave it outside their houses during trick-or-treat. This signifies that there are non-food “treats” available for children with food allergies.
- Keep all hard candy away from children who are under 3 years old.
- After Halloween, make sure to limit the number of treats your child eats to only one or two pieces per day.
What to do with all of the left over candy
- Donate it. Dentists often collect donated candy in exchange for healthy treats or fun giveaways. You can also donate it to groups like Operation Shoebox or Operation Gratitude who send the candy to soldiers who are overseas.
- Make a deal with your child that for every pound of candy they give away they can earn a book or a small toy.
- Bake with it. Chop up the mini-candy bars and use them in your holiday baking.
- Make your own special Halloween trail mix by mixing a handful of candy with nuts, pretzel, raisins and dried fruit.
Taking a bit of time to check costumes, reminding your child of road safety and looking through your child’s bag of candy can help ensure your little ghoul or goblin has a safe and fun Halloween!
How do you help keep your child stay safe during trick-or-treat?
Kohl’s Grow Safe and Healthy – Halloween Flyer http://www.kohlssafeandhealthy.com/assets/pdfs/2016HalloweenSafetyFlier.pdf
Centers for Disease Control – Halloween Health and Safety Tips https://www.cdc.gov/family/halloween/index.htm
Safe Kids Worldwide – Halloween Safety Tips http://www.safekids.org/tip/halloween-safety-tips
Kids Health – 15 ways to use leftover Halloween candy http://kidshealth.org/en/kids/excess-candy.html