10 tips to keep your kids safe on Halloween
1. Find the perfect frightful fit
Cold Canadian autumns can often spoil some of the fun of Halloween with sneeze-fearing mothers zipping heavy coats over their children's costumes. Before you buy or make a costume make sure it will be loose enough to fit over layers of warm clothing. Also, be sure the outfit doesn't hang too low, posing a tripping hazard. Young revellers should dress in brightly coloured outfits with reflectors so they can be seen by motorists. Health Canada also notes parents should ensure that accessories such as swords are made of a soft, flexible plastic.
2. Masks versus makeup
In the debate over the superiority of masks versus face paint, face paint appears to have won — at least in terms of safety considerations. Safety experts say that since masks narrow the field of vision, children should opt to use makeup. Faux blood and ghoulish powders can closely mimic the effects of frightening masks. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eyeholes are large enough for the child to see through properly. Also check that the nose holes allow for proper ventilation.
3. Halloween night all aglow
Jack-o'-lanterns may provide festive cheer but they also pose a fire hazard to small children. Never leave a candle in a pumpkin unattended and consider using a small flashlight as an alternative means of illuminating your pumpkin. Keep pumpkins, matches and lighters in a secure place out of the reach of small children. As with all clothing, caregivers should check the label to ensure that costumes are flame resistant.
4. Visit all your old haunts and make a map
Planning a route is crucial to an abundant candy harvest but a strategy also offers some practical benefits as well. Establish a route for children in pairs or small groups to walk in familiar neighbourhoods. Discourage children from zigzagging back and forth across the street, to ensure road safety. Parents who aren't accompanying their children should know the areas in which their children are walking in case of emergency. Children should also carry a flashlight and if available, a cellphone.
5. Don't let slowpokes be spooked
Choose a well-lit, central, local landmark to be a meeting place if anyone in the party gets separated. Keep a running headcount of children in your group so stragglers won't be left behind.
6. Build a spooky but safe and well-wired haunted house
With spooky smoke machines, lights and screeching soundtracks, Halloween enthusiasts can put on a haunting good show. Secure extension cords so trick-or-treaters can easily pass by without stumbling. When buying lights, check for certification from the Canadian Standards Association or the Underwriters' Laboratory of Canada. Also, check for frayed wires and be sure not to overload outlets.
7. Trash the unwrapped candy stash
Caregivers should tell their children not to eat their treats until the end of the evening when their candies can be properly inspected. Any treats that aren't wrapped or have torn, damaged packages should be thrown out. For children under the age of five, check for any hard or large chewy candies that might be a choking hazard.
8. Considerations for children with diabetes
The Canadian Diabetes Association says that children with diabetes should be allowed to keep potato chips, peanuts and sugar-free gum, along with a few extra treats. Younger children should be encouraged to stay home and hand out treats in costume.
9. Carve carefully
Let children draw the faces on the pumpkins with marker and leave the carving to the adults. Use a carving kit, equipped with blunt tools, and place the pumpkin on a sturdy, flat table. Don't try to saw the pumpkin but make a series of incisions along the drawn lines. For tips on how to carve your pumpkin, visit our narrated slideshow.
10. Start the evening early
Send your little ones out early so they can enjoy the evening before it gets too dark and make it home at a reasonable hour to rest and recover after a frightfully fun evening.