Written by: Cally Worden
Halloween is a time for dressing up, eating sweeties and generally enjoying plenty of spook-filled fun. To avoid this annual scare-fest turning into a real life nightmare, it’s important to keep safety in mind. Have a quick read through our essential Halloween Safety Tips before the big night, and make sure you set you and your little spooks up for an enjoyable and harmless Halloween.
Okay, so black is the traditional Halloween colour, but it isn’t the most visible of shades. Choosing a lighter coloured costume for your kids to roam the streets in is the wiser option, and if your little ones insist on displaying their inner-goth, then taping reflective strips to various parts of their person is a suitable alternative.
With all those candles around on Halloween, it’s a good idea to check that any costume you plop your kids into, is flame-retardant. Long capes and flappy sleeves can easily stray into the path of tiny-but-hot tea lights. And if wigs, beards and head-covering costume extras are the order of the day, then check whether your children can actually see properly. Tripping up kerbs in the dark is no fun.
Masks are great, but can restrict your child’s vision and make breathing tricky. Suggest they only lower the mask when knocking on a door, or opt for face-paint instead, using your imagination to create fabulously ghoulish personas. Coloured decorative contact lenses are probably best avoided, as they can cause irritation to sensitive eyes.
Finally, avoid giving your kids hard wands, swords, or other weapons to carry. It’s an invitation for a fight, that may just get out of hand. Soft, flexible alternatives are readily available.
Whether you let your kids loose with a knife for pumpkin-carving is a matter of personal choice, and will depend on the age and maturity of your offspring. Never let young children wield a sharp knife unsupervised, and if your little angels simply can’t be trusted, they can still participate in the fun by drawing a design on the pumpkin skin in black marker pen for you and the older kids to carve out.
Gutting a pumpkin is fantastically messy fun. No knives should be necessary for this activity, so resist the cries for sharp implements and hand out spoons, roll up sleeves, and set your kids to work extracting the guts of the pumpkin safely.
I had no idea how slippery pumpkin innards were until I found myself on my back on the kitchen floor. Be sure to avoid this embarrassing and painful mistake by cleaning up carefully. Laying newspaper on the floor before you begin the Big Scoop can help make the clean-up easier.
There’s nothing like a proper tea-light flame in your pumpkin, but these should never be left unattended, or within the reach of little hands. If you plan to go out and want to leave your pumpkin alight, opt instead for a glow-stick or flameless candle to create your spooky shimmer.
Trick or Treat Safety
The age at which you allow your kids to roam the streets alone will vary for each family. Just be aware that the streets will be filled with a lot of youngsters, and many older unaccompanied kids too. If you’re not sure your children are capable of dealing alone with potential peer flashpoints, then they will need a chaperone. In addition:
For younger kids:
- Check out the booty – not all ‘treats’ are palatable- some people have a weird sense of humour
- Don’t overdo it – stick to familiar neighbourhoods, preferably with people who you know will be receptive and kind
- Give them a torch or glow-stick – they will enjoy waving it around in the dark, and it will help them to see where they are going and hopefully prevent any tumbles
For older kids going it alone:
- Give them a mobile to carry in case of trouble
- Make sure they know to remain together in a group
- Give them the safety drill – no dark alleyways or parks, no going into strangers’ homes, avoid other gangs of kids, cross roads safely without peer distraction, never play with fire, be back by an agreed time – and get them to repeat it all back to you
As a responsible parent you may also want to check that your own property is a safe environment for little Trick or Treaters to venture into. Fire-up your outside lights and make sure your path or driveway is free from obstructions.
Once you’ve considered all of the above you can relax in the knowledge you’ve done all you can to make your kids’ Halloween a safe one. Now go and break open the sweet tub – just to check that your sweet treats are acceptable of course. It’s a tough job, but no self-respecting parent would dish out sweets they haven’t sampled, surely?!