Halloween is the time of year I insist on two rules – be creative and be safe. The kids and I start exploring different ideas in August. We talk about what they dressed up as in past years and what they are really into this year. Then, we have a reality check and focus on what we can make without sewing.

This year, my son is completely wrapped around “Star Wars: the Clone Wars” and begged to be Captain Rex. I know my creative limitations and his expectations, so despite my rules, we agreed to buy a costume. My daughter was actively involved in making her witch costume. She glued the yarn (hair) onto the hat, and cut and glued pieces of tulle for her skirt.

We thought we were ready, but then realized we forgot the second rule, safety. My son’s costume came with a helmet that he couldn’t see out of very well. We cut the eye openings bigger so now he can see – and breathe – better. While telling my co-workers about my daughter’s costume, I realized hers is too dark. She and I talked about how we can make her more visible when trick-or-treating. Let’s face it: Witches don’t have reflective stripes on the back of their costumes. But, they can carry flashlights to help them “fly” in the dark!

My husband also considered safety when choosing the goodies we’ll pass out. We certainly want to sure we’re not passing out choking hazards to the little ones that show up on our doorstep. While walking through a craft store, he spotted some temporary tattoos and thought those would work great for the younger kids.

So, with a little help from the whole family, I think we’ve followed our rules and we’ll have another safe and happy Halloween! To help ensure your kids do the same, I also recommend following these tips:

For kids
•    Make sure drivers can see costumes in the dark. Be original with a glow-in-the-dark costume or a reflective trick-or-treat bag. Children should use a flashlight or glow stick when walking at night.
•    Trick-or-treat in a group, not alone. Kids younger than 13 should go with an adult. Older kids always should go with buddies and follow a preplanned route.
•    Remind kids to cross streets at crosswalks and intersections, stop at street corners, look left, right and left again before crossing. They should not cross between parked cars or step into the street without looking to see if a vehicle is coming.

For motorists
Be extra alert for trick-or-treaters.
•    Remember that popular trick-or-treating hours are during the typical rush-hour period, between 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
•    Drive slowly — expect a lot of pedestrian traffic.
•    Drive with your full headlights on so you can spot children from greater distances.

•    Check kids’ treats before they eat them. Tell kids to pick only wrapped candy when they trick-or-treat.

•    Make sure costumes fit properly. Costumes should be large enough to allow warm clothes underneath, but short enough to prevent tripping. Do not allow children to wear adult shoes or boots.
•    For the little superheros, be sure to fasten capes with Velcro® that easily pulls apart. Never tie capes or other costume pieces around a child’s neck.
•    Also, close and lock windows so children do not attempt to open and jump from them; explain the difference between what people do on television or movies and what they can do in real life.
•    Use facial paints and cosmetics in place of masks. If a mask is used, make certain the eye and nose openings do not restrict vision or breathing. Children should remove masks in between trick-or-treating stops.

•    Children should trick-or-treat only during your community’s predetermined hours.
•    Kids should only visit homes of people they know and only to accept treats at the door.

For more information about pedestrian safety, go to safekidswi.org.

Bridget Clementi~ Bridget Clementi, director, Community Health, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Read more blog posts by Bridget Clementi.


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