Trick or Treat, Safety and Health

On October 31st, nearing dusk, children will emerge from their homes as superheroes or villains, fantastic creatures or fictitious characters, ready to thrill someone in the night.  They may feel invisible, prepared to leap and fly, or “zoom” with unstoppable speed. As families begin their annual walk from house to house and street to street, greeting neighbors and reminding children for the dozenth time to say, “Please” and “Thank you!,” safety will be a primary concern on a thrilling night.  Whether you are trick-or-treating for the first time or are now walking with grandchildren, the following tips will help everyone in your group make good choices.

Costume Tips

Leaves packed in layers on the roads can present a slippery surface.  Rather than walking on unfamiliar streets in the darkness in a new, unique shoe, encourage children to wear a flat, rubber-soled shoe.  If you remove the burden of walking up steep inclines and numerous stairs in slippery shoes, children will be much happier and safer.  Consider delegating members in your group to carry a small battery-operated lantern, flashlight, or glow stick.  Reflective tape, glowing bracelets or necklaces can be used on a child’s costume or trick-or-treat bag to increase their visibility.

  • Masks can obstruct your child’s vision; therefore, choose an alternative—face paint. Make sure your child’s skin is tested, first, to ensure it does not trigger an allergic reaction. And, before bed, the face should be washed, removing all streaks and evidence of the paint to prevent eye irritations and rashes.
  • Check for impediments in your child’s ability to walk weeks before the costume is worn. Pinning and sewing the hem of a long dress, dragging pants legs, or a cape may require time.
  • Accessories such as brooms, blunt-tipped swords, or tall staffs may become a burden after a mere thirty minutes of walking. It may be wise to consider leaving these items behind.

Neighborhood Safety

Eager children anxious to call out “Trick-or-Treat” may not remember basic pedestrian safety; therefore, before the night begins, discuss why it is important to walk, never run, on the sidewalk and not to enter the street between parked cars.  Safety implies children staying together within their group, and not accepting a treat inside a car or house.

  • If accompanying young children, parents should stand in the same location for children to find their way back with ease.
  • When large numbers are present, consider scheduling a meeting place such as a particular driveway or street sign.
  • Older children should agree to a route that is acceptable to the parents, and a safe place to meet.

High Cost of Fructose

The majority of candy that enters your child’s Halloween bag will contain large amounts of High Fructose Corn Syrup, HFCS.  After letting them eat a few favorite selections, parents might want to restrain their children from eating more candy, to avoid the symptoms of hyper-stimulation, irritability, fatigue, headache, or stomach ache that are linked to consuming copious amounts of sugar!

  • Families should eat a healthy, filling meal before the night begins.
  • Discuss in advance if candy can be eaten, and the number of pieces.
  • Recommend avoiding choices that take time to chew, such as sticky candies and gummies.

Creative Candy Plan

While it is tempting to keep a stash of Halloween candy in the home for children to eat, consider an alternative plan. Some random suggestions:

  • Young children can use vibrantly colorful candies to differentiate between colors, add numbers, or use as simple addition or subtraction problems.
  • Candy could be used to create interesting patterns, shapes, and even pictures.
  • Contact your local dentist to see if he or she has a “candy take-back” program.

On a beloved holiday of masks and costumes, the thought of frights and terrors, this night can still be a safe evening, if you have a plan for allowing your children to trick or treat.  Happy Halloween!


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