Monday, October 15, 2012

Halloween Safety; Costume, trick-or-treat, candy, driving, and pet safety.

It's Autumn! Yes folks it's that time of year again; pumpkin patches, fall festivals, costume parties and trick-or-treating among other things! We all want our children to have a safe and fun Halloween, so below I've listed some great tips for safe trick-or-treating as well as safe driving tips, pet safety, costume safety and candy safety.

Remember parents, this is the kind of night that gets child predators lurking. Never allow your child to trick-or-treat alone. Remind them that they should never go into a strangers home, even if invited, and that they should never get into a strangers vehicle and that if they are asked to, to scream for help as loud as they can and run away. Set a time for your child to be home, and map out a route to trick-or-treat on so that if they are late or (how I hate to even type the words...) go missing, you know where to start looking.

If possible, allow your child to carry a cell phone so that you can communicate with each other. Have your child carry a flash light and remind him that though he should not shine it into anybody's eyes, he CAN shine it into the eyes of a person he feels is going to grab, attack, or harm him in some way.

Costume Safety
  • First check and be sure that all costume accessories, like swords and knives for instance, are short, soft and flexible.
  • Wear well fitted costumes, masks and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips and falls.
  • If possible, purchase costumes made of flame retardant material. The federal Flammable Fabrics Act (FFA) requires costumes sold at retail to be flame-resistant. So be mindful of the place where you're buying your costumes and if you're making one, try to use fabrics that are inherently flame resistant such as nylon and polyester.
  • If your children are wearing make-ups, test a small sensitive area of their skin (like the under part of their wrist) with the product first to be sure they won't have an immediate reaction. Before bed, be sure to remove all of the product to prevent possible irritation and staining of skin or sheets.
  • Invest in some reflective tape that can be stuck to your child's candy bag, hat, shoes, costume, or any other place that you feel will help drivers see your child.

Finally time to get those treats!
  • Don't let your children trick-or-treat alone. If their friends aren't in the area, go with them or have an older sibling or other trusted adult take them door to door.
  • Always look both ways before crossing the street and use crosswalks wherever possible. Remember, it is Halloween and people do realize that there are children around. That doesn't mean they all care or are not distracted by costumes or decorations.
  • Walk on a sidewalk at all times when possible or facing traffic as far to the shoulder of a road as possible.
  • You or your child should carry a flashlight after dark. There are fun Halloween lights that can be purchased for cheap and will help people/drivers see you and/or your child. If your child is carrying a light remind them to never shine it in the eyes of a driver as it can cause temporary blindness and can get someone hurt.
  • Let your children know not to cut through back alleys and fields if they are out alone. Make sure they know to stay in populated areas and not to go off the beaten track. Let them know to stay in well lighted areas with lots of people around. Explain to them why it can be dangerous for kids not to do this. If they are going out alone, they are old enough to know what can happen to them in a bad situation and how to stop it from happening.
  • Remind your children that they should always walk from door to door and not run. After the sun goes down it's very hard to see breaks in the sidewalk, potholes, and other decorations or debris.
  • Remind your children that they should never enter the homes of strangers, even when invited.
  • Be mindful of lit candles or luminaries that can quickly set fire to costumes or candy bags.
  • Instruct your child to never get into the car of a stranger. It might be easy for your child to mistake a stranger's car for your car with the excitement of Halloween or mistake a pervert for someone trying to help them out.

Candy Safety
  • Check all of your child's treats for tampering, choking hazards or other pranks before allowing them to eat them.
  • Eat only factory wrapped treats, avoiding homemade things by strangers.

Driving somewhere?
  • Don't use a cell phone, other electronic device or play with your radio while driving. You shouldn't be doing this anyway, but on Halloween night there will be many small children running around that could pop out from behind cars or fall while crossing a street at any unexpected moment.
  • Be ready for your destination BEFORE you get in your car. Do not drive and put your make-up on or adjust/put on your costume. Keep your eyes on the road at all times, especially tonight!
  • Drive below the posted speed limit in residential areas during trick-or-treating hours. This will allow you time to break if you see a child dart in front of you.
  • If you're in a residential area and are stopping your car and leaving the motor running, turn on your hazard lights to avoid confusion for other drivers and to ensure the safety of those around you.

Have pets in the mix?
  • Remember that no matter how much your pet might beg for some of that Halloween candy, it's probably not a good idea to give him any. Chocolate is said to make animals very sick, and other candies probably won't make his tummy feel too good either.
  • If you don't want your pet feeling left out, there are many Halloween themed animal treats that can be purchased at a pet store, or you could even home make your own.
  • Keep candies and candy trash out of your pet's reach. Wrappers and tin foil can get stuck in your pets digestive tract and make them ill or worse.
  • If you're taking your pet out on the streets during trick-or-treating hours, be sure your pet is friendly and doesn't scare easily. Even some of the sweetest pets can snap and injure a small child when frightened or overly excited or stressed.
  • Be mindful of candles or other decorations that may pose a potential danger to a large dog's swinging tail or a curious cat.
  • If you have a black cat, you should know that this time of year isn't the friendliest time of year for these little guys. There are many people out there who call themselves Satanists who will purchase black cats from pet stores or steal them from people's yards to be used as a "sacrifice".
  • If your going to dress your pet up, be sure he can easily move in his costume and that if he has a mask he can easily see out of the eye holes, peripherally too.

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