The days are getting cooler and darkness falls earlier. It's almost Halloween! The big event generally kicks off just as dusk is settling in.
Let's face it. Visibility out there is not good. Your eyes are struggling to adjust to the changing light conditions just as car lights should be switching on and street lights should be coming on.
And it's at this time that hordes of children are cutting loose on the streets. They're wearing unfamiliar clothing and weighed down by plastic pumpkins, bags and pillow cases. They are excited, with visions of Halloween candy dancing in their heads.
If you think about it, the whole event is overflowing with risk factors. But if everybody is alert and on their toes, Halloween can be safe and fun for everyone.
How to Dress
Costumes should fit well, so kids can keep their balance. Kids should wear light colors. You can put reflective stickers or tape on costumes and candy bags. They can carry glow sticks — lightsabers anyone? — or flashlights.
Costume accessories such as swords, knives and the like should be made out of rubber or some other soft material.
Masks can make it hard to see. Makeup is better. You as the parent will have to make sure that what goes on your child's face is safe. You'd be surprised what is allowed to be used in children's Halloween makeup.
In 2014, the FDA discovered cobalt, chromium, nickel and lead in samples analyzed for metal contamination. And "hypoallergenic" labeling is no guarantee that the product is actually hypoallergenic.
Keep makeup or face paint away from your child's eyes and mouth. Avoid face paint with colors that are not approved by the FDA. There are eight FDA-approved neon, or fluorescent, colors and one FDA-approved luminescent that glows in the dark. Learn more on that here.
Face paints can also be concocted at home with ingredients like cornstarch and color from fruits and vegetables.
Where to Go
Even in well-lit areas, it's important that kids only cross the road at corners, obey traffic lights, and use crosswalks when they're available. Where there are no sidewalks, kids should walk facing traffic as far back from the road as they can.
You might want your child to take a cellphone for safety's sake. But children shouldn't be using electronics while they are walking down the street, distracted with their heads down.
There'll be plenty of knocking on doors and standing by doorways for candy. But all candy transactions should take place outside. Kids should not go into houses of people they don't know well.
Young children should always be accompanied by adults or at the very least teen-aged siblings while making their Halloween rounds.
What to Keep
Your children shouldn't snack on their treats while they are out, no matter how tempting it all looks. They should bring everything home for you the parent to taste-test ... I mean, to inspect.
In order to be considered safe to eat, all treats should be in original and intact packaging. Home-made goodies may look delicious, and they may indeed have been created with loving hands, but each one is a question mark and should be discarded.
If your children have food allergies, such inspection is especially important. Look out for foods that can be choking hazards for small children as well.
There's so much we need to be careful about as parents, where Halloween is concerned. Sometimes you might wonder if it's worth the headache.
And then you get a look at your kids in the get-ups they're so pleased with. You see the excitement in their eyes as they head out for a Halloween adventure. And yeah, it's a memory-maker. And it is so worth it.
Reviewed October 26, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
HALLOWEEN SAFETY TIPS. Safekids.org. Retrieved Oct. 25, 2016.
Halloween Health and Safety Tips. CDC.gov. Retrieved Oct. 25, 2016.
Halloween Food Safety Tips for Parents. FDA.gov. Retrieved Oct. 25, 2016.
Simple Steps For Safer Face Paint. EWG.org. Retrieved Oct. 25, 2016.