Dr. Robyn’s Halloween Safety Tips for Families

10 Halloween Safety Tips and Tricks for Children, Parents, Pets, and Families

Dr. Robyn Silverman (Sign up for Dr. Robyn’s feed)

Halloween is a fun and exciting holiday for children and adults. But in order to keep Halloween and fair for children, teens, pets, and parents, everyone should be aware—and commit to– these 10 Halloween safety tips. Trick or Treating is always more fun when nobody gets hurt!

(1) Guarantee Halloween Supervision: No child should trick or treat by themselves even if they’re in a familiar neighborhood. Make sure a parent, other trusted adult, or teen-aged sibling or sitter can take your son or daughter from house to house.

a. If your child wants to expresses that they’re “big enough” to go without supervision, see if you feel comfortable allowing them to approach the houses on their own while you stay in full view on the sidewalk.

b. Know the route your child will be taking if you aren’t personally going with them.

c. Teens should go in a group—they might be older but the buddy system is always safer (and more fun!) than going it alone.

d. If the supervisor is a teen, be sure to discuss ground rules so everyone’s on the same page.

(2) Establish a Curfew: If your children are going with a sitter, older sibling, or other trusted adult, ensure that you agree on a time by which they should be home. Time discrepancies can cause undue anxiety—get it out of the way so you don’t have to think about it.

a. So there isn’t any question about what time it is, ensure that your child wears a watch s/he can easily see in the dark.

b. Make sure s/he knows how important it is to be home on time.

c. The adult or supervisor may want to carry a cell phone for quick communication—however, be sure that the supervisor isn’t talking or texting while s/he should be paying attention to your child!

(3) Ensure Powerful Character: Even if you’re not the one accompanying your child on the Trick or Treating Trip, talk to your child about using their Powerful Words and doing the right thing even when nobody’s looking or in the face of peer pressure. Encourage your children to make good choices based on values and character.

a. Vandalizing someone else’s house or property is never OK even if you’ve heard that “mischief night” or Halloween are exceptions. They’re not.

b. Hurting or throwing things at animals or other children won’t be tolerated.

c. In the immortal words of my grandmother, Thelma (“Nanny”), “please and thank-you are not dirty words.”

(4) Remember Halloween Costume Safety: Some costumes might be cute or funny—but if the children can’t see well out of the masks or can’t move well in the body of the costume, they aren’t the best choice. Children need to be able to see so that they can easily cross the street safely, walk up and down steps without incident, and move out of the way of danger, if necessary, with ease.

a. Costumes should be fire retardant or flame resistant. Candles and jack o’ lanterns are common on Halloween and accidents sometimes happen.

b. Ensure good peripheral vision out of the eye holes of masks, if used.

c. Be careful of Halloween props: If swords, sabers, pitch forks, or other items are used, be sure that they’re smooth, safe, flexible, and of no danger to anyone who might touch it, trip over it, or fall on it.

d. Make sure the costume fits. Shoes shouldn’t be too lose or too tight (even if they look good!) and costumes shouldn’t drag on the ground.

e. Just a note: Please refrain from putting your youngsters in “sexy” Halloween costumes. They send a twisted message that is both unintentional and inappropriate. Need I say more?

(5) Be Pumpkin Safe: Carving pumpkins can be a fun activity to do with children. However, young children should not be using sharp knives to carve out the pumpkin themselves. An adult should do that part.

a. While there are kits that allow children to do some carving, be careful. Children can still cut themselves. If your child is using such a kit, be sure to educate fully and supervise.

b. You can always have your child decorate the pumpkin with a permanent marker and other fun items like feathers, paints, stickers, and googly eyes. This is safer and just as fun.

(6) Make your Home Halloween Safe: Nothing ruins Halloween fun more than an accident on your property! While Halloween is often about “darkness” and “spooky props” remember safety first.

a. Your home should be well lit so that no child (or adult) trips over anything on the way to or from your door.

b. Set candles and jack o’ lanterns away from the door and walkway so that no costume is accidentally set on fire. Keep paper or other decorations away from any fire. You can also choose to use a battery powered light source or light stick in the place of live candles.

c. Be careful that no fire source is within reach of your pets. Wagging tails and excited animals can lead to accidents when fire is around. In addition, leave pets inside around Halloween time—aside from some stupid tricks some may want to play, the neighborhood children may not know that feeding animals candy can be dangerous.

(7) Educate Children about Halloween Safety: It’s been a year. Refresh your children’s memory about obeying traffic laws, not going inside anyone’s home, staying on sidewalks (when available), and being aware of the surroundings.

a. Children should carry a flashlight if they’re going in the late afternoon or evening time.

b. Children and teens should wear reflective clothes or reflective tape so that cars can see them.

c. Remind children not to get into anyone’s car and to always remain with the group and teen/adult supervisor.

d. Children should stay on a familiar, approved route—no short cuts through yards, parks, back alleys or dimly lit, less traveled areas. They might be used to taking short cuts across neighbor’s yards during day light hours, so be sure to impress upon them the importance of staying on populate paths during Halloween.

(8) Let’s talk Candy: Children can rack up a lot of candy on Halloween. Make sure your child isn’t eating it until you’ve taken a look through it and discarded anything opened or sketchy-looking.

a. Feed children a good, nutritious dinner before they go Trick or Treating so they don’t make a meal of the candy they collect from the neighbors.

b. Make sure you read candy ingredients if you are unsure if they contain anything to which your child may be allergic. If you still are unsure after reading the contents, you can always make your own treats.

c. While you don’t need to replace all candy with carrots, you also don’t have to allow your children to eat all their candy at once! Perhaps you’ve read some of my articles on how much sugar  is poured into the items children eat and drink these days. While Halloween only comes on comes once per year, that doesn’t mean that the children need to eat a year’s worth of candy in once sitting!

(9) Keep Pets Safe: There are a lot of people around on Halloween and not all of them know how to handle themselves around your family pets.

a. Warn children against feeding candy to pets or neighborhood animals. This can cause the animals to get very sick and can attract other, perhaps not as welcomed animals, to your child’s bag of candy!

b. Put a sign on your door that you have a pet (yes, even if friendly!) so that children are aware before ringing your doorbell. You don’t want them to accidentally open your door and let the cat out or be licked by a dog when they’re scared or allergic.

c. Pets might look cure in costumes but make sure that the costumes are safe and comfortable for the animal in question!

(10) Prepare Ahead: We still have a couple of days before Halloween so safety preparations can be made. Don’t wait until the day to talk about how to stay safe and make good choices on Halloween.

a. Make sure that your child knows his name, address and phone number. If s/he gets separated from the group, you can be reached. For young children, an address tag can be discreetly attached to their costume.

b. Review “Stop, Drop, and Roll.” While we are all aware that we need to be vigilant about candles, jack o’ lanterns, and other possible outside fire sources on Halloween, not everyone might. Teaching your children to Stop, Drop, and Roll can be a life saver. Talk about watching where you go but also what to do in the rare event that something on them catches fire.

c. Remind them that they can call 9-1-1 to get the police if there is an emergency. Go over some examples of emergencies in which 9-1-1 would be helpful or necessary.

From the Powerful Words family to yours, have a very Safe, Fun, and Happy Halloween! Do you have any great Halloween Tips for other families?  Please share below!

Photos:

Jupiter Images

Picture of my niece, Evie

City of Chiliwack website

Is Fear Of Fat Stealing Halloween? 6 Ways to Take Control

Candy or Bust?

Dr. Robyn Silverman

Ahhhhh, Halloween! Candy! Chocolate! Raisins?

My best friend, Randi, and I used to love dressing up for Halloween and sampling the goods from all the neighbors. Mrs. Garvel always had the best and biggest candy bars. Huge Nestle Crunch Bars. Colossal Butterfingers. Titanic Swirly Lollipops. Yum Yum. Of course, we always had the one “weird” neighbor who gave out raisins. Yeah- who wants raisins on Halloween?

The word is out. It turns out that many people are trying to find alternatives for Halloween Candy.

Given the rise in childhood “obesity” and “overweight” people are scrambling to make deals with their children over the amount of candy they can eat and what toys might be acceptable substitutes for the old sugary pastimes on this all-access holiday.

It wasn’t the gruesome costumes or gory masks turning up at Lisa Bruno’s front door that spooked her on Halloween. It was the pudge lurking beneath the costumes. “The kids were just so huge,” Bruno says.

The weight controversy aside, we all know it’s not really healthy for kids to sit in their room with a plastic pumpkin full of sweets—or worse yet, an overflowing pillow case like Randi and I used to use for maximum storage capabilities. It’s not great for the teeth, the belly, the skin, or the brain!

Here are some of the suggestions for dealing with the sugar overload:

(1) Don’t say “No” to all candy: When candy is the forbidden fruit, they’ll try to pluck it from any source they can find. Unless your children have extreme dietary restrictions due to health, and absolute “no” can backfire.

(2) Provide limits: Allow your children a certain amount of the treasured stash each day or allow them to pick 10 pieces of candy and give the rest away to charity, the local police, or another location. This is a great time to talk to your children about portion sizes.

(3) Use the “SwitchWitch:” The fantastical creature is also known as “The Sugar Fairy.” Ask your children to switch whatever amount of candy they want for a toy. A little candy leads to a little toy. A lot of their candy leads to a big toy. In the middle of the night, “The Switch Witch” or “The Sugar Fairy” comes, takes the candy they’ve laid out, and replaces it with a toy commensurate with the amount of candy donated. Some children will be more apt to do this than others but it’s definitely worth a good try.

(4) Buy back the candy: You can do this with actual money, books, or even time doing something special with Mom or Dad. For example, a piece of candy can be worth 5 cents, 20 pieces of candy could be worth one book, or 50 pieces of candy could be worth a special outing to dinner and the ice cream shop with Dad. Ice cream might seem counter productive—but what would you rather your child have; 50 pieces of candy or 1 ice-cream sundae?

(5) Provide yummy or cool alternatives: Those of you who really don’t want to give candy on Halloween need to be really creative here. No kid really wants cheese sticks, raisins, and juice boxes for Halloween. They get that stuff everyday! Come on. I mean, who are these people giving out dental floss and tooth brushes when the children ring their bells? However, for young children, magic wands, temporary tattoos, stuffed animals, match book cars, balloons, and cool stickers can work. Even gift certificates for a slice of pizza, a sundae, or a doughnut could be a good alternative since parents can allow the children to use once Halloween is just a memory. Some other alternatives are here, here, and here.

(6) Don’t make fat such a big fat deal: One night of eating candy does not a fat boy make. It takes much more than that to gain weight!  We don’t want to make children worry about body image simply because they’re eating candy on Halloween. We all like to indulge every once in a while and Halloween is fun and yummy! It’s not healthy or good for one’s belly to stuff themselves with too many candy bars but teaching children that they can eat a treat and enjoy it once in a while is important AND healthy.

“It’s important that we as parents help them find the balance between that very traditional fun activity and a healthy lifestyle. The government’s food pyramid allows about 10 percent of the day’s calories for most kids to come from extras, which includes candy. That’s going to allow every child to have some candy on a daily basis, and it really is OK.” (Connie Diekman, past president of the American Dietetic Association)

Remember what it was like participating in Halloween when you were little. Teach your children well but don’t suck the fun out of Halloween. And please, keep your raisins and dental floss to yourself.

You have any good ideas about candy and Halloween? Do you agree about providing alternatives or do you think kids should be able to live and let live during the weeks around Halloween? Please share your suggestions as well as your opinions. We can all learn something from each other!