How to Keep Your Kids Safe and Healthy on Halloween

By ABC News

Oct 30, 2011 2:50pm
gty children trick or treat ghosts jt 111030 wblog How to Keep Your Kids Safe and Healthy on Halloween

(Getty Images/Vetta)

ABC News’ Suzan Clarke, Hemanshu Nigam, and Lauren Torrisi report: 

Parents and their excited ghosts and goblins are gearing up to go trick or treating tomorrow. This is a time for little ones to have fun, but parents shouldn’t let the kids’ enthusiasm drown out common sense. There are many hazards associated with Halloween.

Here are a few tips to help keep your children safe:

  • Make sure children wear bright, reflective costumes when they go trick-or-treating at night. If their costumes blend into the dark, give them glow sticks to carry, or place strips of reflective tape on their costumes or trick-or-treat bags to make sure drivers and others can spot them in the darkness. On average, twice as many children are killed while walking on Halloween as compared to any other day of the year, according to Safe Kids USA, a national child safety advocacy organization.
  • Don’t allow children to wear face paint without testing it first to make sure it doesn’t irritate their skin or trigger allergies.
  • Don’t allow children to wear decorative, non-prescription contact lenses.
  • Make sure store-bought costumes and accessories — such as wigs, hats and masks — are flame-retardant. The label should clearly state that. If it doesn’t, don’t buy it.
  • Don’t leave candles burning unattended. According to the National Fire Protection Association, Halloween is one of the top five days for candle fires. Try votive candles instead, and keep jack-o-lanterns away from curtains. Or why not opt for electric lights?  They give all the ghostly glow without the risk of burning the house down or igniting a costume.
  • Don’t let children wear costumes that are too long. They could get caught in car doors or could trail too close to candles.
  • Children who are younger than 12 years old should not be allowed to go trick or treating by themselves.
  • Be sure to examine all your children’s treat for signs of tampering and choking hazards, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions.  Children should not eat homemade treats made by strangers.
  • Don’t let younger children carve pumpkins. Let them draw the outlines onto pumpkins, but leave the carving to an adult.
  • Thanks to valuable gadgets, new and old, and a few home-grown safety tips, you can spend time passing out candy instead of worrying this Halloween. Click here for a list of devices and applications that can track your children and help to keep them safe.

See other Halloween safety tips from the CDC here.

For parents who are trying to curtail their family’s sugar intake, reduce the health risks associated with a growing obesity problem in our children, or just keep the little ones from bouncing off the walls, Halloween can be a scary holiday.

Rachel Willen, chef and creator of the blog “Food Fix”, offers her personal experience and tips to create a healthy Halloween that won’t disappoint the kids.  Here are a few tips to help keep your children healthy:

  • Think Salty and Savory: Candy is not the only treat that kids crave. Chips, crackers, popcorn and puffed cheese snacks are all high on the list of treats that kids and teens love, and they can be wholesome and much healthier than candy. Click here for a list of healthy, kid-friendly snacks.
  • Think Refreshing: Last year I used an empty planter I purchased on sale after the season, and filled it with ice and mini bottles of spring water.  It was surprising how many kids were thrilled to have a cool drink while making their rounds.  With an icy bottle of water and a crunchy snack to add to their “booty,” there were very few cries of “what, no candy?” To keep your refreshing treats healthy, stick to plain water, flavored and enhanced waters that are sweetened with juice or juice concentrates only, or juice boxes that do not contain any added sugars, corn syrup or sugar substitutes. Smaller portion drinks are more practical and economic as a giveaway. Click here for a list of healthy drink options.
  • Trade In Candy: What should you do with all the candy your kids bring home? Negotiate with them to “trade in” their candy for something that they’ve been wanting: a video game, a pair of jeans, a special dinner or just cash toward a higher priced gadget for which they want to save. You can decide, based on your budget, what amount of bartering you are willing to do. Then, go through the treat bag together, letting them choose a set number of goodies to keep, (a week’s worth or some of their favorites), after which they hand over the rest in exchange for their earned gift. Before you toss the loot, try looking for a dentist or orthodontist in your area who runs a candy trade-in program in his or her office. It’s a sweet solution to handling a scary amount of sugar this Halloween.

 

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