Thursday, October 15, 2009

Halloween Safety: be safe not spoooked

Arielle and Linnea are so excited about Halloween. There's been a huge discussion about the perfect costume. Arielle really wanted (and got) a Disney Store Mulan outfit (Ugh...I even offered to make a cockatoo costume), but Linnea changes her mind frequently. They've been practicing wearing costumes all month, and every morning, Linnea asks "Halloween today?"

I've been moonlighting as a freelance writer (money for toys!) and this month I wrote an article about Halloween safety. Did you know that children are four times more likely to be killed in a pedestrian car accident in just four hours (4-8pm) on Halloween evening than on any other full day of the year?!? That's real scariness.

So, I compiled a few safety tips to keep your ghosts and princesses safe.

• First of all, young children should be accompanied by an adult.

• Make older children go with friends. Give them a curfew and a cell phone. Go over safety rules with older children and teens a few days before Halloween and right before they leave.

• Make sure costumes are easily visible. Choose light colors. I don't like bright lights and batteries, but glowing wands and light-up shoes increase visibility.

Arielle is loving her MIC Mulan shoes with flashing lights. You can also buy some reflective tape (available at hardware and sporting good stores) to add to costumes, strollers and bags.

A few light-colored costumes as everyday-wear.

Arielle in her Fairy Finery Princess Dreams Dress ($73.00). It's so pretty and washes wonderfully.

• Adults should also consider visibility. Wear light colors and add reflective tape to your own jacket.

• Have your children carry flashlights. If carrying a flashlight is difficult, sporting good stores sell inexpensive, flashing red lights for bicyclists that can be clipped on the back of a costume or on a stroller. I have a few that we use when we walk to the playground at night.

• Make sure costumes are short enough to prevent tripping and do not restrict movement. Think comfortable and warm and machine washable. Etsy has an amazing selection of handmade costumes and Sarah's Silks makes awesome costumes.

• Shoes should be easy to walk in and should stay on.

• Make sure your child can see. Use face paints like Lyra Face Pencils ($15.95) instead. If masks are used, make sure they fit well and have large enough eye holes. Masks should not restrict vision.

• Make sure hats and scarves are secure so they don’t fall over children's eyes.

• If your little knights and princes are carrying swords, they should be short and made out of soft and flexible material.

Soft sword ($12.59)

• Remind children to walk, not run. (Uh huh. Linnea how about a padded spacesuit for Halloween?)

• Use the sidewalk, not the street. Don't take shortcuts through yards or alleys. Try to stay near lights.

• Cross at crosswalks and well-lit intersections. Do not jaywalk or cross from between parked cars.

• Warn children about dogs. Even normally friendly dogs may be frightened by Halloween costumes.

• Never enter the home or car of a stranger. Older children should call to check-in before riding with anyone (stranger or not) or going in anyone's home.

• Carry a cell phone, but don't use it while crossing the street.

• Check all treats for signs of tampering before they are eaten. Make sure store-bought treats are factory wrapped. Only accept homemade treats from people that you know well.

• Candles are nice, but they can be dangerous. Keep children and their skirts/sleeves/capes away from candle-lit decorations and never leave candles unattended.

Most of all have a fun and happy and safe Halloween.

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