With witches, ghosts, goblins, and super-heroes descending on neighborhoods across North America, I would like to offer some safety tips to help prepare for a safe and enjoyable Hallowe'en:
- Make sure your child can be seen in the dark. Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Consider adding reflective tape/striping and/or chemical light-sticks to costumes and for greater visibility.
- Remember to put reflective tape on trick-or-treat bags, bikes, skateboards and brooms, too!
- Make sure that costumes are loose enough to be worn over warm clothing but not so baggy or long that trick or treaters can trip over their costumes or make contact with flame.
- Changing the colour of your eyes with cosmetic contact lenses: these cosmetic lenses should be used only under the supervision of an eye-care professional. In addition, wear time should be limited to the shortest duration possible. If you should choose to wear these lenses, be certain that they are cleaned properly.
- Think twice before using simulated knives, guns or swords. If such props must be used, be certain they do not appear too authentic and are soft and flexible to prevent injury.
- Secure emergency identification (name, phone #) discreetly within Halloween attire or on a bracelet.
- Equip yourself and/or your children with a flashlight, to see better and to be better seen. Don't forget to buy and install fresh batteries!
- Openly discuss appropriate and inappropriate behavior at Halloween time with your children.
- Ideally, young children of any age should be accompanied by an adult. If your children go on their own, be sure they wear a watch, preferably one that can be read in the dark.
- Review with your children the principle of "Stop-Drop-Roll", should their clothes catch on fire.
- Explain to children that visits should be made along one side of the street first, then the other and that it's best to cross the street at intersections or crosswalks. Remind children to walk, not run; they should also obey traffic signals. If there is no sidewalk, children should walk on the left side of the road facing traffic
- Remind children to look both ways before crossing the street to check for cars, trucks and low-flying brooms.
- To help prevent children avoid the temptation of snacking while they're out trick-or-treating, give them a snack or light meal before they go out - don't send them out on an empty stomach. Although tampering is rare, parents should take the time to inspect the goodies.
- Children should stay in familiar neighbourhoods, and only in well-lit areas; they should only visit homes that have their outside porch lights on. Trick-or-treaters should NEVER go inside homes or cars of strangers, and should avoid houses that are not lit.
- Children should avoid cutting across yards or driveways.
- Remember to stay away from animals you don't know.
- Children should carry quarters so they can call home. Teach children how call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they have an emergency or become lost. Remind them that 9-1-1 can be dialed free from any phone.
- Older children should know where to reach you and when to be home.
- You should know where they're going. Discuss where they will be going, and their intended route.
Help Make your Neighbourhood Safe for Trick-or-Treaters
- Use extra care if you're driving on Hallowe'en. Children are excited and may forget safety rules. Pay extra attention to the road and enter and exit driveways slowly.
- Make your home safe for trick-or-treaters. Remove all objects around the outside of your home that could cause children to trip or fall, such as ladders, dog leashes, hoses and flower pots. Turn your outside light on so children will know they can visit your home.
- Small inexpensive flashlights can be used to light pumpkins safely.
- If you are using candles, keep them out of children's reach and away from curtains and other objects that could catch fire.
- Do not allow small children to carve pumpkins. Instead, let your child draw a face on the pumpkin.
- Some Halloween treats may trigger allergic reactions in susceptible individuals. Be aware of this when considering what you will be handing out. Consider non-food treats such as pencils, stickers, erasers or coins. Stickers, multicoloured pencils or beads can be a nice surprise in place or in addition to traditional treats. Ask your children what they think a good treat would be.
- Decorating your home signals to other trick-or-treaters that your household is taking part in Halloween.
- If you use candles to light your pumpkin, place the pumpkin well away from where trick-or-treaters will be walking or standing.
- Make sure paper or cloth yard decorations won't be blown into a flaming candle.
- Keep pets inside and away from trick-or-treaters and lit candles, especially if they are easily frightened or become over-excited in the presence of strangers.
- If using decorative lights indoors or outdoors, use lights certified by a recognized organization such as the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). Check lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections. Discard damaged sets. Do not overload extension cords.
WISHING EVERYONE A HAPPY AND SAFE HALLOWE'EN