By Jasmine Terrell, DNP, APRN, CPNP-PC
Happy Halloween! As children get excited to don their costumes and trick-or-treat for candy, remember these important health and safety tips.
Holidays are known for reckless drivers, and Halloween is no exception. More than twice as many children are killed walking on Halloween than any other day of the year. Make sure that children under 12 have adult supervision and, be sure everyone in the group knows how to unlock a phone to call 911 and easily get in touch with a parent or guardian if needed. Cell phones should be fully charged before venturing out, and members of the group should be equipped with flashlights. Children should walk, not run, from house to house on well-lit sidewalks when possible. If on the street, children should walk in the direction facing traffic, so they are alert to oncoming cars.
Talk with your pediatrician about your children getting their COVID and flu vaccines which will increase their protection through the holiday season. It’s important to bring hand sanitizer and wash hands frequently, especially before eating. Those who have had a fever should refrain from public activities until fever-free for 24 hours without fever reducers.
Establish the Route Before You Go
Staying in large groups is fun and keeps children safer. Stick to neighborhoods you know and are comfortable with. Map out the trick-or-treating route beforehand and decide where to end the route. Avoid dark homes with no porch lights or decorations. Do not separate from the group, and establish a designated time to be home.
Please be aware of animals to prevent bites. Not all dogs are friendly. It is important to restrain your own pets from jumping or biting other children. Additionally, teaching your children to ask for permission from the dog owner before petting and avoiding aggressive games can help prevent injuries.
To prevent falls and scrapes, opt for costumes that fit well and choose good shoes, such as sneakers, for walking. Avoid baggy and oversized costumes and high-heeled shoes that could cause children to trip. Choose a mask that allows for good visibility and breathing. Masks with lots of glitter or other decorative elements can get in the eyes of children and cause irritation.
Check to make sure your costumes and wigs are “flame resistant,” which should be marked on the label. Test any makeup on the skin ahead of time to ensure there is no allergic reaction, and check the label to make sure the makeup is nontoxic.
For costumes made of dark or black materials, try to add reflective elements that drivers can easily see. This could be reflective tape, glow-in-the-dark bracelets and necklaces or a brightly colored candy bag.
Check the Candy
It’s always a good idea to serve a healthy meal before going trick or treating. In addition to obesity, excess candy and sugary snacks can lead to increased risk in dental cavities, diabetes and behavior concerns.
It is essential for caregivers to check and sort candy before consumption. Check treats for any damage, and discard candy with torn wrappers, holes in the package or ones that are not properly sealed.
Babies and toddlers shouldn’t have any hard candies, popcorn, gum, small candies, gummies, or nuts as these are choking hazards. Additional precautions should be taken for children with food allergies.
Trust your instincts to stay safe this Halloween, and most importantly have fun.