(O’FALLON, IL) – Halloween is an exciting time of the year for kids, as they get to dress up in creative costumes, carve up pumpkins, and have lots of sweets in their bags. But while it can be an enjoyable experience, it isn’t without its preventable, safety risks. HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and HSHS Medical Group encourage parents to become familiar with basic safety tips to make sure their kids stay safe on Halloween.
Making the right decision when trick-or-treating is an important part of Halloween safety. Children under the age of 12 should not be alone at night without adult supervision. If they are mature enough to be out and about without an adult, they should stick to familiar neighborhoods or trick or treat in groups.
“In the past, a lot of the Halloween general warnings focused around candy safety, but the bigger risks to kids come from their costumes and the traffic on the street,” noted Guy Venuti, MD, an HSHS Medical Group pediatrician serving the local community. “Candy should still be checked for tampering or choking hazards for smaller children, and I strongly encourage rationing the candy, so kids aren’t eating it all in one night.”
Dr. Venuti shared some basic safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to keep in mind before parents and kids begin trick-or-treating:
Parents should make every effort to ensure costumes, whether bought or handmade, are created with bright colors and flame-retardant materials.
To prepare for colder weather, children’s costumes should be sized to fit warm clothing underneath, as long as doing so does not create a tripping hazard.
Non-toxic makeup and decorative hats are suggested as an alternative to masks which can obstruct a child’s view.
Kids should carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers.
They are also encouraged to always walk on sidewalks or paths.
Safe Kids Worldwide (safekids.org) reminds drivers to be extra safe on Halloween. Slow down and be alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways. Be sure to enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully, and take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on both medians and curbs. Popular trick-or-treating times are 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., so it is recommended that drivers be extra alert for kids during that time period.
Residents handing out treats can help with safety by keeping lawns and porches clear of obstructions such as toys and garden hoses, and clear wet leaves or other debris from the sidewalk. Replace any burned-out light bulbs to ensure good visibility at the walkway and front door, and pets should be kept under control so that they do not bite or chase children at your door.
Finally, when it comes to the tradition of pumpkin carving, the AAP advises against small children carving pumpkins with sharp utensils. Instead, they should draw a face with markers. Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects and they should never be left unattended. Another safer option is to use a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light the pumpkin.
“Kids and parents can make fun and lasting memories on Halloween, but it is important to take the extra steps to make the evening as safe as possible,” Venuti said.