By: Amber Clouthier
While my son won’t be going trick or treating this year, I can’t help but reflect on how much different his experience of Halloween will be than mine was. I grew up in a rural area where we knew every neighbour on our road and our parents were forced to drive us from house to house, thus controlling our candy accumulation and intake. Our son will be going out in the suburban jungle where we only know a handful of people at best. I know my husband or I will accompany him for the first few years, I know eventually he’ll be able to handle going out on his own with some friends. Now that’s a SCARY thought. And while Halloween should be a little scary, it should only be frightening in a fun way. Nobody wants their little witches or vampires to ever be truly afraid before, during or after fright night so here are a few tricks and treats to help make Halloween safe for everyone.
Tricks and Treats for Halloween Safety
Decor Safety: I remember very clearly my mother handing me a very large kitchen knife and letting me have at it with our pumpkin every year. While I know she monitored my slicing and dicing and I managed to keep all of my fingers mostly unscathed, those special pumpkin carving kits are probably a much safer choice for everyone. Bandages and blood are only fun if they’re fake! Also, if you choose to use real candles in your jack-o-lanterns rather than battery powered ones make sure you monitor them closely. Haunted houses are exciting but burning ones are a little too much so.
Costume Safety: Costumes should be visible or have additional visibility added to them such as reflective tape or glowsticks. Make sure they fit well to avoid tripping (unlike my disastrous mummy costume of ’96…) and use face paint instead of masks to help kids be able to see where they’re going. As Canadians many of us also need to consider weather safety. Growing up I remember two types of Halloween, cold and colder. Until global warming catches up to us, make sure to dress your child in something weather appropriate. Actually, by wearing a snowsuit underneath, almost any costume can be made age appropriate thus avoiding an entirely different costume problem some parents face.
Street Safety: Make sure to review with children a few days prior to the big event the importance of safely crossing the street and to avoid talking to strangers (other than to thank them of course.). Children should also be reminded to never enter a car or house. They might be too excited or distracted to listen to you when they’re all geared up to go. Plus it’s hard to hear you underneath all of those necessary layers! Parents who are worried about the safety of their neighbourhood should look into alternative community events. Many malls have trick-or- treating right in their stores at Halloween, avoiding street safety issues all together.
Candy Safety: I can remember almost every year at least one of our neighbours sent home delicious homemade treats, but I’m afraid these will have to get tossed if my son brings them home. While they will almost certainly be made with nothing but love and care a few bad apples (literally) have ruined these for everyone. Anything that looks opened or tampered with will also have to go. Of course I’m also going to need to taste test anything with caramel and nougat; that goes without saying.
I know eventually I’m going to let my son spread his wings and soar, especially if he wants to be some sort of flying insect, but for now I’m going to enjoy his very first Halloween the way most new parents do; by dressing him up in something ridiculously cute and take a million pictures until he either can’t stand his costume anymore, or it becomes horribly stained with some mystery substance that I can’t or don’t want to identify.
For more Halloween safety tips, you can visit Health Canada.
Amber Clouthier is a new mom to a boy born in December 2012. She lives in Ottawa, Ontario with her husband who is a self proclaimed geek and she knows more about Dungeons and Dragons than she would like to admit. In her spare moments she used to love to bake, read and take long baths. Now she is happy to get a five minute shower and take a nap. Please don’t take her too seriously because she sure doesn’t.