By: Maria Maldonado, MD
The weather’s cool and crisp and Halloween is on the minds of young goblins eager to nab some sweet “treats,” and teenagers raring to engage in “cosplay.” As the popular saying goes, “it’s all fun until someone gets hurt.” But there are some simple “tricks” to stay out of harm’s way. It pays to lay down some ground rules for the older kids and start demonstrating good habits for the younger ones.
First – costumes. While creativity’s the order of the day, safety should be the primary concern. Add reflective tape to costumes and goodie bags to make sure drivers can see the little tricksters. Equip small children with flashlights. Ensure that clothes are fire resistant, and that shoes and masks fit well to promote good visibility and agility. Accessories like swords or knives should be short, flexible and blunt. Test make-up on a small patch of skin to preempt allergic reactions that would put a damper on the fun. Finally, no one should be allowed to wear decorative contact lenses, no matter how tempting it is to look like a genuine vampire, unless they’ve been prescribed by a licensed eye professional to avoid injury to the cornea and infections.
Second, lay down the rules. The kids should be instructed not to eat anything that isn’t commercially packaged, and better yet, they should bring everything home – not so YOU can eat them (although you know you’re hoping for some Reese’s peanut butter cups), but so you can examine the wrappers for any signs of tampering, and check for any food that might pose choking hazards. To avoid the inevitable gorging of candy, make the kids (and yourself) a nutritious meal before they go out. Tell the kids no matter how old they are to only go to well-lit houses, avoiding darkened ones, and never enter any home unless they’re accompanied by an adult.
Finally, it almost goes without saying, that no one should go trick or treating alone – groups are best, and young children need a responsible adult or two to take them around. There’s always a grown-up happy to put on some make-up, dress up a bit and relive their childhood to chaperone the kids, and besides walking around the neighborhood is a good way to work off those calorie laden candies. If you’re not the one responsible for shepherding the young ones around the neighborhood, maybe you’d consider having a party for when the children get home. But try to avoid bobbing for apples – it isn’t very sanitary and germs are easily spread that way. And don’t eat too much of the candy that’s brought home– your kids and your health won’t forgive you. Consider offering a tray of veggies and fruit, and other delicious wholesome snacks. Above all, have a safe, healthy, and very Happy Halloween!