Friday, October 5, 2018

It’s that time of year again. Pumpkin spice dominates all things from coffee to butter to even our old Easter favorite, Peeps. Regardless of your stance on pumpkin spice, I think most folks can agree that one of their favorite fall memories from childhood involves trick-or-treating and LOTS of candy. This magical time for kids can present some risks though. For kids with food allergies or other health conditions that affect what they are able to eat, a trend in the past several years is to place a teal pumpkin on your porch if you are offering non-food treats. Even for kids who are not limited in their food options, the dilemma of what to do with the hordes of candy left after Halloween has prompted some ingenious ideas. One friend shared her tradition of the Switch Witch who visits the house one day after Halloween and trades out candy for a toy. Some local dentists have a tradition of buying back Halloween candy to send to military troops through Operation Gratitude. Here are some additional safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics to keep your little goblins safe this Halloween.

  • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
  • If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child's costume, make sure it is not sharp or long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he or she stumbles or trips.
  • Review with children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they ever have an emergency or become lost.
  • Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
  • Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and not on a porch or any path where visitors may pass close by. They should never be left unattended.
  • To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations. 
  • Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.
  • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
  • If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
  • Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.
  • Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
  • Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or-Treaters:
  • Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
  • Remember reflective tape for costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
  • Carry a cellphone for quick communication.
  • Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
  • If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
  • Never cut across yards or use alleys.
  • Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
  • Don't assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn't mean others will!

Wishing you a safe and happy Halloween!

Kate Cook, MD, Medical Director, Pediatric Hospital Medicine and School Telehealth

Norman Regional Health System