Keep Halloween fun: Health and safety for parents and kids

Halloween Health and Safety Tips | Image by Brett Barrett, St. George News

Halloween is a fun time for children, but it also is an important time to be extra vigilant for possible hazards. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta offers some safety and health tips to ensure that your children have a fun and safe Halloween.

Halloween is one of the most exciting holidays for children. However, as the sun goes down and trick-or-treaters start roaming the streets of your neighborhood, there are several things to worry about as a parent or guardian. Potentially hazardous costumes or accessories, tainted candy and crossing the street at night without supervision are only a few concerns that should be addressed prior to a child leaving the house.

Safety tips

• Avoid costumes with excessive flowing fabric, such as capes or wide sleeves. Loose clothing can easily brush up against a jack-o-lantern candle or other open flame, causing your child’s costume to catch on fire.

• Make sure your child’s costume fits properly. Oversizes costumes and footwear can cause your child to fall, bringing them home with more scrapes and bruises than candy. Avoid hats, headpieces or masks that will obstruct their vision.

• Accessorize with flexible props, such as rubber swords. Inflexible props can cause serious injury during a fall.

Wick'a Dee Witch delights kids at Spookly's Pumpkin Patch, Staheli Family Farm
Wick’a Dee Witch delights kids at Spookly’s Pumpkin Patch. Staheli Family Farm, Washington City, Utah, Oct. 20, 2012 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

• Make sure that all face paint and cosmetics are non-toxic and hypoallergenic.

• If possible, choose a brightly colored costume for your child. If not, decorate their costume with reflective tape or stickers so that they can be easily seen while crossing the street.

• Always supervise children under age 13. Older children should trick-or-treat in a group, and a curfew should be established for them. Attach the name, address and phone number of children under age 13 to their costume in case they get separated from adults. Have each child carry a cell phone.

• Teach your child to cross the street only at crosswalks or intersections; never between parked cars. Remind your child to always look both ways before crossing. Children should use flashlights when trick-or-treating at dusk or dark.

• Children should only approach well-lit houses and remain on the porch within street view.

Many of us spend hours decorating the house and creating the perfect costume for a spooky Halloween, but the spookiest part of Halloween is not the scary costumes or the spider web on your front porch – it’s the amount of fat, sugar and calories consumed by trick-or-treaters. The average child consumes 1.5 cups of fat, 3 cups of sugar and 4,800 calories at Halloween time.

“Halloween and candy are synonymous, but it’s important to provide sweets in moderation,” Medical Director of Child Wellness at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Dr. Stephanie Walsh, said.

Walsh said that candies with rich ingredients such as chocolate and peanut butter have the highest sugar and fat content. And many specialty Halloween candies, such as candy corn, contain unhealthy amounts of sugar if not consumed in moderation. She offered several tips to help families have a fun and healthy Halloween.

Health tips

• Talk to your child about boundaries for how many pieces of candy they should consume on Halloween night; three to five is recommended.

• Provide your child with a nutritious meal that includes fruits and vegetables before they go trick-or-treating and provide them with plenty of water. This will lower their appetite for sweets.

• Remind your child not to eat any treats before you have a chance to examine them thoroughly for holes and punctures. Throw away all unwrapped treats.

• Parents of children with food allergies must read every candy label in their child’s Halloween bag to avoid a potentially life-threatening situation.

• Offer to “buy back” candy your child receives in exchange for toys.

• Set aside time for your child to be active to help burn the extra calories consumed.

• When choosing sweets to give out, select ones with nutritional value such as dark chocolate or candies with nuts.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Submitted by: Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

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