Tips to help keep children safe this Halloween

October 22, 2008

As your little ghosts and goblins prepare for another Halloween, there are plenty of ways you can help ensure a safe and happy night.

First, preparation – make sure your child dresses in a light coloured costume or uses reflective stickers to keep them visible at night. Also, remember that masks often obstruct vision and make it difficult for children to breath, so use non-toxic makeup or face paint instead. Make sure any props your child carries (wands, swords, etc.) are flexible in case they fall. Consider putting a nametag on your child’s costume or bag with your address and phone number.

Then, strive for a trouble-free trick or treat. If your child is under 10, you should go with them on their rounds and try to go before it gets too dark. For older children going out alone make sure they carry a cell phone and go in a group if possible. Remind them to take a flashlight and only to go to houses with porch lights on. It is best to stick to the neighbourhoods children are familiar with, but if they go to a new area be sure to stress the rules about strangers. Once they get home, take a moment to sort through the candy – making sure to toss out anything with signs of tampering, any loose candy, spoiled items or any homemade treats.

As for pumpkin carving, never let your children handle knives – instead let them draw the design on the pumpkin and you can do the carving. Let your children get messy scooping out the guts of the pumpkin by hand, rather than with a knife. Once ready, illuminate your jack-o-lantern with a glow stick instead of a burning candle.

Be sure your home is safe for visiting trick-or-treaters by removing any obstructions in the driveway or walkway, providing a well-light entrance and keeping your pets away from the children, even if you think they are harmless.

When driving on Halloween, remember that popular trick-or-treat hours (particularly for younger children) are during typical rush hour periods – so slow down and stay alert in residential areas. Driving with your full headlights on will help you spot children at greater distances, and help them see you as well. Remember that costumes can obscure vision, so children may not see your vehicle. Be sure to look for trick-or-treaters at intersections, on medians and curbs and always enter and exit driveways carefully, double and triple checking your blind spots.

As always, those attending Halloween parties should drink responsibly and make arrangements to get home safely.

“It’s a challenge for parents to teach their children to be cautious without making them fearful or anxious,” says Jack Smith, president of the Canada Safety Council. “There are dangers, but you lessen children’s risks of them if you talk about safety and instil safety rules early on.”