Halloween safety for young children

Halloween is fast approaching and, as we do each year, we worry about our little ones on the year’s most spooky night! And we worry about whether we can keep them safe and still let them have fun. Things have changed a lot since I used to take my kids; I mean we are talking 30-plus years ago. My sister-in-law and I would pile the kids in one big car (and there were five under the age of 8) and go from house to house in our small town; never had to worry about someone tampering with the candy; there were many “home-made” popcorn balls and cupcakes; stranger danger was not a concern; and we really didn’t worry much about costume safety. But times have changed; not everyone knows the people in their town; flammable costumes have severely burned children; and some have been lost to those who prey on our youngest. We now take those extra steps to protect children and keep them safe on a “fun-filled” night. TLC has five things you should know:

Decoration Safety: Keeping your yard well lit and free from obstacles are important steps to keeping kids safe as they trick-or-treat in your neighborhood.

As you plan your haunted decorations, take the time to remove stray objects such as flower pots and hoses, that kids might trip over on their way to your door in the dark.

Choose battery-powered lanterns and lighting instead of candles. As the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reminds us: All lights used for decoration, indoors and out, should carry the UL safety label. If your set from last year looks frayed or is broken, replace it.

Candy Safety: According to the National Confectioners Association more than 35 million pounds of candy corn will hit the stores this year – enough to circle the moon nearly 21 times.

Halloween is the one night when kids take candy from strangers. Keep them safe by making sure they don’t eat any candy or other treats until an adult has inspected the loot. Check for any signs of tampering; throw away unpackaged treats and any candy that has a torn wrapper. If your child has allergies, look for ingredients in ALL treats!

Trick-or-Treating Safety: Chocolate is dangerous for pets. Although it’s tasty to you and me it’s poisonous to our furry friends and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, increased thirst, urination and heart rate and even seizures.

One trick to staying safe on Halloween is to trick-or-treat with a friend, or friends. Here are a few more:

An adult or an older child should ALWAYS accompany young children from door to door.

Visit only houses that have lights on, and best of all visit only the homes of people you know.

While out and about, stick to well-lit streets, preferably with sidewalks to keep both kids and adults alike safe from traffic.

Walk (don’t run) from house to house to keep safe from cars and any obstacles unseen in the dark.

Carry a flashlight to light the way as well as light you up for cars and other trick-or-treaters.

Costume Safety: Add reflective tape to costumes and candy bags to help ensure motorists easily spot kids on the go.

Candy may be the bit treat on Halloween, but for many of us it’s getting to wear a costume that makes the night special.

Whether it’s store-bought or do-it-yourself, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advises everyone wear costumes made of flame-resistant materials.

Parents and kids who make their own costumes should consider fabrics such as nylon and polyester.

Costumes and shoes should both fit well and be easy to move around in.

Costumes should be short enough to prevent tripping and shoes should be sturdy.

In place of masks, which can reduce vision, consider using non-toxic makeup. If the costume begs to have a mask, be sure the eye openings are large.

By following these few tips, you can have a safe and happy Halloween!

Sue Junge is an Early Childhood Support Specialist for the Iowa River Valley Early Childhood Area and is a Thursday columnist for the Times-Republican. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don’t necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. For more information, please visit www.iowarivervalleyeca.org .