This Halloween keep yourself, your kids, and children trick or treating at your home safe. Below you will find some helpful tips for picking safe costumes, trick or treating advice, tips to apply costume make-up safely, ideas to keep your pets safe, and advice on how to make sure that the jack o'lantern carving goes well.
Kids (and adults for that matter) look forward to Halloween for months. In fact, I know some kids that wear their costumes for days leading up to trick or treating night. Don't let the holiday be ruined by an avoidable accident. Just use these tips and your own common sense to make this a Happy Halloween full of devilishly delicious Halloween treats for one and all.
Here are some suggested precautions to take while carving pumpkins with little ones. In our house, creating festive jack o' lanterns was a bit of a competition between us four brothers and sisters, the kids in the neighborhood and our cousins. Mom turned it into a little party which was always great fun.
Tool Safety - Sharp utensils like miniature saws and knives are a necessary part of the pumpkin carving process. Just be sure to give older children some instruction on how to safely use the tools under strict supervision. To get the smaller kids involved, have them draw the face they want carved out of the pumpkin. Then an adult should do the actual carving. One of the best ways to make the carving process safe is to make sure that the pumpkin is gutted properly. If an adult cuts the pumpkin lid with a knife, the kids can get a thrill out of pulling the guts (seeds and stuff) from the pumpkin. While they are cleaning up all the goop on their hands, you can scrape the walls of the pumpkin down a bit making it an inch or less thick where the pumpkin will be carved. Don't forget to roast the pumpkins seeds for a tasty Happy Halloween treat.
Candle Safety - In our household, we have switched to using battery powered candles and tea lights in our pumpkins. It prevents injuries to pets and trick or treaters who could accidentally run into the pumpkins. If you do decide to go with traditional candles, use a glass votive holder inside the pumpkin to make sure that the candle is stable. Place the votive holder on the bottom of the pumpkin interior that you have made flat. Never leave the candle-lit pumpkins unattended. If you are leaving your house or going to bed, blow the candles out! Be sure that you have enough ventilation for the heat (generated by the candle flame) to escape from the pumpkin. This may mean that you'll have to carve a 'chimney' or hole in the back of the pumpkin or leave the carved out lid askew so that it has a gap.
Have Reflective Costumes - Buy or make Halloween costumes that are brightly colored and easy to see during dusk and evening hours. You can add reflective tape to the trim, back, arms or legs of the costume to make sure that cars can easily see the child. Reflective tape is available at sporting good stores and craft shops.
Prevent Tripping & Falling - Make sure your kids have flat sturdy shoes, like tennis shoes, to keep from twisting an ankle or falling. Also, make sure that the costumes aren't too long to prevent entanglement with themselves or others.
Prevent Visual Impairment - In cold climates, we all know that hats and scarves are sometimes a necessity on Halloween night, so be sure that the hats and scarves fit properly. You do not want to have them slipping into their eyes. If you choose a costume that has a mask, make sure it fits properly and has large enough eye holes to be sure that vision is not obscured.
Use Light Sources - Glow sticks, flash-lights and reflector necklaces are great items to have your kids carry while trick or treating. Cars and other hazards will be able to see them much more easily.
Use Flame Resistant Material - Whether you make or purchase a costume, be sure that the materials used for the costume and accessories like beards or wigs are flame retardant. Obviously, flames should still be avoided as flame retardant materials can catch fire. Consider avoiding big flowing skirts and puffy sleeves to cut down the risk as well.
Avoid Novelty Contact Lenses - Although these lenses may look cool, the Halloween contact lenses that can be purchased with costumes or at party supply stores can cause 'permanent eye injury and may potentially lead to blindness' according to the FDA. The only contacts you should be putting in your eyes or your kids eyes are ones that come from eye care professionals.
Use Flexible Props - Many of the scary costumes as well as Halloween skeletons and pirate costumes come with knives, swords, scythes, etc. Just make sure that these items are flexible and dull so that the child can't hurt themselves.
Accompany Small Children - Small children should always be accompanied by an older sibling, parent or other adult. For older kids, give them strict guidelines about where they can and cannot go and agree to a time when they will be home. Be sure to mention that they shouldn't stray off the beaten path.
Choose Appropriate Houses - Trick or treat on Halloween where you know the homeowners. If there are no porch lights on, they likely aren't interested in trick-or-treaters. Make it clear to children that they should not enter ANY home or apartment without you or the chaperoning adult.
Do NOT Snack Enroute - Make it clear to the kids that they should not start eating any of the Halloween treats they receive until you have inspected it. That means no snackin' on the Halloween candy grams along the way.
Inspect The Booty - Parents should go through all of the items collected disposing of anything that is homemade (e.g. Halloween cookies) and not well-wrapped. Inspect the Halloween candy to make sure that there are no suspicious holes or signs of re-wrapping. Anything suspicious should be discarded immediately. Also throw out any small toys or hard candies that can be choking hazards to any small children in the home.
Wearing masks can make the wearer hot and sweaty and impair their vision if the eye holes aren't properly cut. So many people opt for face makeup to create scary witch, ghost and Halloween monster faces instead of masks these days. Here are some simple tips to make sure that you or the child doesn't end up looking like a swelled up mess or an itchy rash.
Look for the FDA label - All theatrical make-up (like that for most Halloween costumes) contains color additives that must be FDA approved so look for that stamp of approval before purchase any face make-up. Also choose make-up that is labeled non-toxic and hypoallergenic.
Use Make-Up On The Intended Area - If the make-up says not to use it near your eyes - DON'T. It could leave you with burning eyes, swollen eyelids or worse so follow the directions on the packaging to a tee. The vice versa is true too. Sometimes eye make-up can irritate the rest of your skin so just use common sense and use make-up where it was intended to be used.
Do a Test Patch - Like with hair color, you should always to a test patch on your inner arm 48 hours prior to using the make-up on your face. Just rub some on the inside of your elbow and leave it there for 48 hours (before Halloween night). If you don't see any rash or irritation, you should be all set. This is a MUST if you tend to have allergies or sensitive skin.
Remove Make-up Before Bed - Read the label on how to remove the make-up so that you don't irritate your skin during the removal process. Don't sleep in your make-up because not only can it make a mess, but it can also lead to skin irritation and puffiness if it accidentally flakes into the eyes.
Pets & Candles Don't Mix - Do not leave lit candles out and about in your home during Halloween as large dogs love to wag their large tails. Before you know it, you could have quite a fire on your hands if the tail hits a lit candle. This includes pumpkins lit by candles - consider using those battery powered fall leaf candles that they sell in party stores.
Don't Feed Chocolate To Pets - Chocolate is deadly to pets so clearly explain to children that they should not feed any of their yummy Halloween brownies or cookies or candy to the family cat or dog. Also, make sure that they don't leave foil wrappers lying around as they can easily choke a pet.
Keep pets indoors on Halloween night - Unfortunately, there are pranksters and others who think it is acceptable to tease, injure, torture and even steal pets. And if you happen to have a black cat, consider keeping it indoors for the week or so leading up to Halloween, as these cats are particularly susceptible to cruelty incidents during the Halloween season.
Put pets in a safe location during trick or treating or parties - Pets can get scared by the noise, too many people and weird costumes that are present when kids are ringing the bell to trick or treat or when you have a Halloween party. Just put them in a bedroom, basement or kennel where they are safe from all the excitement. This way you won't have to worry about your pet darting out the door when you are handing out Halloween candy bar gifts to the trick or treaters as well.
A word about costumes... - We people love to dress up in fun costumes, but pets may not love it so much. So before you try to dress Fido up in a cute pet or dog tuxedo on Halloween night, you should try it on them a few days prior to make sure that they like it. You can even practice by letting them wear it for several evenings prior to the big night. Don't force them to wear it if they are uncomfortable. Be sure that the costume fits properly and that the animal has an unobstructed view of his surrounds (especially if a mask or hat is involved).