Boo! Halloween is here. This Saturday actually. It can be fun but also dangerous especially for little kids. Health experts therefore give us some tips (from the American Academy of Pediatrics) on how to keep our little ones happy and healthy during this fun and spooky occasion. However, the tips can apply to adults as well.
- Costumes should be visible – “bright and reflective”. All the better for motorists as well as supervising adults to see.
- Avoid costumes/shoes that can cause tripping, entanglement, or asphyxiation.
- Masks can obscure vision. Hats shouldn’t slide over the eyes. Face faints can cause allergic reactions (check out US FDA warning in face paints below).
- Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats and wigs should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.
- Costumes, wigs and accessories should be flame resistant. Check the labels.
- Accessories such as a sword, cane, or stick shouldn’t be sharp, too long, or cause the child to trip.
- Small children should never carve pumpkins according to the AAP. They can draw the faces on the jack-o-lanterns but adults should do the cutting.
- Use votive candles for candle-lit pumpkins.
- Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.
- Avoid decorations that may be a fire hazard. Garlands can cause entanglement and choking.
On home safety:
- Remove from the porch and front yard anything that trick-or-treaters could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes, garbage cans, and lawn decorations. Clearly mark or temporarily fence off ponds. Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
- Wet leaves are slippery and should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
- Restrain pets, especially dogs so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite trick-or-treaters.
- Lock up if you aren’t home at Halloween.
On the trick-or-treat trail:
- An adult should always supervise young children on their neighborhood rounds. There is no age limit but parents should know when their kids are ready to go alone or not.
- Use flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
- Teach children how to call somebody, be it 9-1-1, the local emergency number or their parents in case they have an emergency or become lost.
- If older kids are going alone, plan and review the route that you feel is safe and emphasize that they should stick to the route, just in case you need to find them. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
- Only go to houses with a porch light on and stay on the porch. Tell the kids never enter a home or car for a treat.
- Trick-or-treaters should stay together in a group.
- Carry a cell phone and important numbers for quick communication.
- Walk on the sidewalks and go on well-lit streets only. Don’t take shorts or cut across yards or use dimly lit alleys. Cross only on crosswalks.
- Watch out for motorists.
- A good healthy meal before trick-or-treating will discourage kids on gorging on their booty.
- Think about treats that can be alternative to sweets: sugar-free candies, whole grain cookies, little toys.
- Advice kids not to eat any sweets until you’ve checked them out. Throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
- Pay attention especially if your kids have allergies. Check out the labels for undesirable ingredients.
- Try to ration the sweets over several days.
On face paints:
Check out what the US FDA has to say about face paints and theatrical make up:
- Follow all directions carefully.
- Don’t decorate your face with things that aren’t intended for your skin.
- If your face paint has a very bad smell, this could be a sign that it is contaminated. Throw it away and use another one.
- Like soap, some things are OK on your skin, but not in your eyes. Some face paint or other makeup may say on the label that it is not for use near the eyes. Believe this, even if the label has a picture of people wearing it near their eyes. Be careful to keep makeup from getting into your eyes.
- Even products intended for use near your eyes can sometimes irritate your skin if you use too much.
- If you’re decorating your skin with something you’ve never used before, you might try a dab of it on your arm for a couple of days to check for an allergic reaction BEFORE you put it on your face. This is an especially smart thing to do if you tend to have allergies.
- [Check] the list of ingredients on the label. Look for the names of the colors. Then check the Summary of Color Additives on FDA’s Web site. There’s a section especially on colors for cosmetics. If there’s a color in your makeup that isn’t on this list, the company that made it is not obeying the law. Don’t use it. Even if it’s on the list, check to see if it has FDA’s OK for use near the eyes. If it doesn’t, keep it away from your eyes.
- [Pay attention to] fluorescent colors [especially those which contain] D&C Orange No. 5, No. 10, and No. 11; D&C Red No. 21, No. 22, No. 27 and No. 28; and D&C Yellow No. 7.None of them are allowed for use near the eyes.
- Don’t go to bed with your makeup on. Wearing it too long might irritate your skin, and bits of makeup can flake off or smear and get into your eyes, not to mention mess up your pillow and annoy your parents. How you take the stuff off is as important as how you put it on. Remove it the way the label says.
And don’t forget to have fun!
Photo credits: stock.xchng