It’s that time of year again. Ghouls, goblins, and fairy princesses will be haunting our sidewalks and front porches for a few hours on the evening of October 31st.
While the vast majority of children will have a fun and memorable time, we’d like to take this opportunity to provide some safety tips for parents who are trick-or-treating with their younger children.
Before we get into the tips, we wouldn’t be doing our job as a dental clinic if we didn’t take a few sentences to warn you of the dangers of your kids eating too much sugar.
While a couple of candy bars probably won’t hurt, if you give your kids a huge bag of Halloween candy and leave it up to their better judgment as to when they should eat it, there’s an excellent chance that we’ll find a few new cavities during their next dental check-up.
Here are a few tips you can follow to ensure a safe and happy Halloween!
While that “Stranger Things” costume may be a hit with the friends and classmates of your kids, it could be a potential safety hazard. Make sure that your child’s costume fits them very well. If it’s too tight or too loose, they could trip and fall on a curb or the wet evening grass.
You can buy some cheap light-reflecting tape at the local Home goods store. Put a few strips on the back of your child’s costume. If a car should happen to drive down a dark street that your child is walking down, the reflective tape will catch the car headlights and shine very bright.
In addition to reflective tape, you can also buy and add glowsticks to your child’s costume. If you somehow become separated from your kids at a crowded house, you can easily find them in a crowd of costumes in the dark night.
You can also pick up a $1 LED flashlight from the local dollar store. Attach it to your kid's belt so that they can easily make use of it with only one hand. Their other hand is going to clutch their bag of candy tighter than a safe at Fort Knox.
The “big kids” (those over 13 years old) tend to go out after 8 p.m. Most cities in the U.S. get dark around 6 pm, and this is the ideal time to take the young ones out trick-or-treating. After the sun immediately sets, there’s still enough light outside that you and your kids won’t be in the pitch-black dark.
Many houses that give out candy also have children themselves. They will be ready for the first early batch of trick-or-treaters as early as 5 pm.
Stick to Your Neighborhood
Avoid going to unfamiliar neighborhoods. Yes, the “rich houses” might give out full-size candy bars, but you and/or your kids could get lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood where you don’t know the neighbors that are giving candy to your kids.
You can easily lose track of your kids, especially at crowded houses. This is why adding a couple of glowsticks to their costumes is a great way to identify where they are from far away.
Back in the 1980’s the big “scare” was crazy people putting razor blades in candy bars and giving them out to trick-or-treaters. Many hospitals in those days offered free X-rays of Halloween candy to make sure that they weren’t tampered with.
While taking your kids to the hospital to have their candy X-rayed may seem a bit excessive, there are other things you can do to make sure their candy hasn’t been tampered with.
Before you let your kids go buck wild with their candy loot, turn on the dining room light and put all of their candy onto the dining room table. Look for anything out of the ordinary, including:
- Odd bumps or shapes
- Metallic noises
- Smells or odors
- Candy that weighs more than it should
A quick visual inspection of each piece of candy should put your mind at ease. If you come across something that doesn’t seem right, throw it away. While it may seem like a waste, candy or treats that aren’t factory-sealed could have been tampered with.
It’s better to be safe than sorry. Only allow your children to eat candy that’s completely wrapped and sealed from the factory.
Talk to Your Children
One thing that parents tend to overlook is talking to their children about being safe on Halloween. Kids nowadays aren’t dumb. If you sit down with your children before you go out and explain your safety concerns, there’s an excellent chance that they will not only understand but listen and abide by your wishes.
If you feel that your child collected too much candy during Halloween, you can always confiscate the entire bag and dole out a few treats at a time. Be sure to find a good hiding spot because kids are resourceful and will find anything that isn’t locked up in a safe.