The Costumes, Travels, and Treats – Halloween Safety Tips For Young and Old

Halloween is a great tradition that is a part of most everyone’s childhood memories. Kids (and many adults, too) get to dress up and be something or someone else for a day. They get to go from house to house, knocking on doors and asking for candy. The holiday originated with Celtic rituals dating back thousands of years, and the first official citywide celebration of Halloween in the United States took place in Anoka, Minnesota in 1921.As the years have gone by, however, fears have increased about the safety of children during the holiday. The days are gone when anyone would allow their child to roam the streets at will and unsupervised. Halloween can still be a fun and safe adventure for kids if parents stay alert and follow a few safety guidelines, however. These guidelines fall into three general categories:1. Costumes: Make sure your child’s costume is enhanced for visibility. Many costumes are dark, and reflective tape can be added. Costumes should fit well, since a too-long costume can be a trip hazard, especially at night. In fact, falls are the leading cause of accidents on Halloween night. Face paint is preferable to masks in that it does not impede vision like many masks do. If a mask is worn, it should have large eye holes and some type of opening for both the nose and mouth. Any accessories such as knives and swords should be made from flexible material, so that they do not injure a child in case of a fall.2. Treats: The good news about treats is that the possibility that children may be given tainted Halloween candy is, by and large, nonexistent. A few isolated incidents have occurred, but much of the hype over this was generated by urban legends that were spread around, and the media. However, it is still in the realm of possibility, and all candy should be inspected by parents before it is consumed by children. It is a good idea to make sure children are well-fed with a good dinner before setting out to trick or treat, as this will reduce the probability of premature snacking before inspection can occur. Sticking to familiar neighborhoods should also minimize the risk. Candy should be inspected to make sure it is in its original packaging, and that the packaging is intact (no loose wrapping, holes, tears, etc.).3. The Journey: An adult or older teenager should supervise children at all times. Children should never enter anyone’s home without the adult present. Plan the route and establish a return time. Only stop at well-lit homes. Walk on sidewalks, or if the street must be used, walk on the left side of the road facing traffic. No running–uneven sidewalks and yards can cause falls. Carrying a flashlight is also a good idea. As for older teenagers and adults who may be driving that evening, extreme caution must be exercised. Watch for children darting out from between parked cars. Children may not have on the recommended reflective tape, so watch out for those in dark clothing. Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully. Another consideration is animals. Pet owners should have their animals securely pinned up, as the increased foot traffic and presence of strangers is sure to get animals, particularly dogs, worked up. However, there could be dogs or other stray animals loose, and children should be on the lookout.In ancient times, the Celtics celebrated the holiday now known as Halloween by lighting huge bonfires and burning sacrifices to their gods. The rituals were somber in those days, but fortunately times have changed, and Halloween is a day for fun and perhaps a bit of harmless mischief. By following the tips listed above, adults and children alike can enjoy a mostly worry-free celebration on October 31.