Keeping Ghosts & Goblins Safe at Halloween
Tips on how to trick or treat safely, from Mary Muscari, associate professor at Binghamton University, State University of New York, and author of Not My Kid 2: Protecting Your Children from the 21 Threats of the 21st Century.
Batman may be infallible on the big-screen, but he's prone to injury when the man behind the mask is actually a little tyke trick-or-treating on Halloween.
Keep your child safe by keeping these tips and ideas in mind during the upcoming ghoul season.
· Help them choose costumes that allow for adequate vision and mobility. Plan ahead so that last-minute costume designs don’t lead to trips and falls. Is your kid a procrastinator? Give a reasonable deadline for dress-up decisions - and stick to it.
· Flame resistant does not mean fireproof, so keep trick or treaters away from open flames. Do not use real fire as part of their costume - there are plenty of fake, flickering lights that can do just as good a job and won’t blow out in the wind.
· Superheroes, pirates, cowboys and other weapon wielding wonders should carry props that are obviously fake and will not cause accidents and injury.
· Older children and teens should be cautious about controversial costumes. Dressing like a rival gang-banger on the wrong turf can have disastrous consequences.
· Trick or treat during daylight hours, or make sure at least part of your child’s costume is reflective so motorists can see them.
· Be sure to plan the trick or treat route. Select homes you know. This is not the time for kids to boldly go where no kid has gone before.
· Accompany young children and make sure older kids travel in groups. No child should trick or treat alone, even to the house next door.
· Carry flashlights and a cell phone. Make sure the batteries are fresh before you leave the house. Better yet, take time beforehand to pop new batteries into the flashlights while the cell recharges.
· Reinforce these safety measures before they head out:
o Do not talk to or take anything from strangers.
o Walk, don't run
o Follow pedestrian safety rules (use cross walks, obey traffic lights, etc.)
o How to call home or 911 in case of emergency
o How to 'Stop-Drop-and-Roll" if their costume does catch on fire.
o No bad behavior - no egg throwing, toilet paper hanging, graffiti, or any other creative mayhem.
· Instruct children to not eat any of their booty until you inspect it. Minimize temptation by giving them nibbles from home to munch on along their route.
· Use your booty inspection to ration the goodies and ward off bellyaches.
You can also keep your own home safe for visiting ghouls and goblins:
· Offer healthy alternatives to candy, such as popcorn. Choose treats that are pre-packaged. Other safety conscious moms will toss out unwrapped goodies, just as you will.
· Turn on your outdoor lighting, and keep the walkways clear of toys and other safety hazards.
· Keep the pets inside and away from the front door. The noise and sights can frighten pets, which may bolt and get lost. Candy can cause serious harm to pets, too, so keep all goodies out of their reach.
About Mary Muscari: Associate professor
Decker School of Nursing,
Binghamton University, State University of New York
Topics areas include parenting, from toddler age and up, especially teens. She has conducted a number of parenting workshops around the country; most popular topics: keeping kids safe from predators ('live' and Internet), bullying, raising nonviolent kids and school violence.
Parenting books include:
Everything Book: Raising Adolescent Girls (Moira Mc Carthy with Dr. Mary Muscari) (2008)
Everything Book Raising Adolescent Boys (Robin Weiss with Dr. Mary Muscari) (2008)
Let Kids be Kids: Rescuing Childhood (2006)
Not My Kid 2: Protecting your Kids from the 21 Threats of the 21st Century (2004)
Not My Kid: 21 Steps to Raising a Nonviolent Child (2002)