Ghosts, goblins, and many scary dressed-up creatures both big and small are soon to make their arrival at your front doorstep. All of the excitement and anticipation of this special event can cause many trick-or-treaters to become both forgetful and careless. With a little bit of effort on your part, you can help make this a spook-tacular day for everyone!
"Loose costumes can be hazardous to children for several reasons," explains Beth Ellen Cody, MPH, program director of Safe Kids Worldwide, based out of Washington, DC. "Outfits with baggy sleeves or billowing skirts are more likely to come in contact with exposed flames, like candles in jack-o-lanterns, and catch fire than tight-fitting costumes. Any costume that is too long and loose may also be a tripping hazard."
It is also best to avoid costumes made out of paper, since there is a growing trend of decorating pathways of homes with displays that contain small candles. And if your little one goes for a closer look, there's a frighteningly good chance of a sleeve or pant leg catching fire.
If your children will be out trick-or-treating after dark, make sure their costumes are made not only with light-colored material, but also with carefully situated retroreflective tape on their clothing, costume accessories, and/or treat sacks. "More child pedestrians are hit by cars on Halloween than any other single night of the year," explains Cody. "Parents can make children more visible by decorating costumes and sacks with retroreflective tape and stickers, and using costumes that are light or bright enough to make children more visible at night. Older children out after dark should carry flashlights or glow sticks to increase their visibility."
If you live in an area that will be experiencing cold temperatures during Halloween, Cody recommends that you dress your children warmly with "several layers of tight-fitting clothes or by wearing thermal shirts and pants underneath costumes."
Best Face Forward
Although face paint or cosmetics applied directly to the face are considered safer than a loose-fitting mask, which can obstruct a child's vision, parents should carefully read labels and look for products that are "laboratory tested," "nontoxic," "hypoallergenic," and are specifically indicated for use on a child's face.
When using Halloween makeup, use common sense. Read the product manufacturing directions carefully, with special attention paid to whether the product is safe to use near your child's eyes.
If your little ghost or goblin insists that a mask is the only thing cool enough to go with his or her outfit, then make sure that the eye, nose, and mouth openings are large enough.