Halloween is almost upon us. Families all across the nation are getting prepared: decorating their houses, buying bags of candy, carving pumpkins, and choosing costumes. It is a fun holiday for all ages. And while spooky and dangerous is the perception that Halloween evokes, you can never be too careful when it comes to your kids.
Aside from the ghosts and goblins, Halloween also has some unseen dangers in the simplest forms—costumes. Making sure your child’s costume (and your own!) is safe can be of the utmost importance during this holiday. Follow these tips to help your children enjoy the real horror of Halloween.
1. Make sure costumes are visible in the dark
Choose light-colored costumes. Halloween celebrations typically start after dark, so try not to have the a completely black or dark colored costume. Brighter colors make the costume more visible, and therefore, safer for all involved.
You can also add reflective or glow-in-the-dark tape to the costume or your trick-or-treat bag. This way, it will show up in the dark and make it easier for cars and others to see. Accidents are easily avoidable when there is visibility.
If you’re unwilling to add tape to the costume, make sure that your child has glow sticks, glow bands, or a flashlight to take with him/her. Anything that makes them easier to see is going to be best from a safety perspective.
2. Buy reputable costumes and materials
Buy costumes from a reliable and reputable retailer. You are putting them on your children, so you should know who made them, along with the materials they were made of. Buying costumes from known manufacturers, distributors, and department stores is the best way to ensure that they are safe.
If you go the route of homemade costume, that is perfectly fine. Just make sure that the clothing, accessories, and face paint you use hasn’t been recalled for any safety issues. You can search ConsumerSafety.org for recent recalls on these types of products.
3. Check for flame-retardant materials
Costumes worn by kids should never be flammable, period! They should be made of non-flammable materials such as nylon or polyester. According to the Flammable Fabrics Act, costumes sold at retail stores are required to be flame-resistant.
Think about it—people have candle-lit jack-o-lanterns, tikki torches, and many other unique decorations, some of which might include flames of one kind or another. You can’t have your kid walking near these novelties in a costume that can easily combust. It’s just not safe.
When piecing together a costume of your own, make sure that you use fire- and flame-resistant components. If you’re not sure whether something will protect your child from fire, ask an attendant at your favorite craft store or fabric shop to help you find safe materials.
4. Verify breathability and line of sight
Breathing and seeing are crucial to a good time trick-or-treating. So, if the costume includes a wig, beard, mask, or heavy fabric, make sure all nose, mouth, ear, and eyeholes are wide enough to be of use. Breathing should be easy to do, no matter what little monster or superhero you child transforms into for the evening.
The costume should also allow for clear vision. It’s not enough for your children to be seen – they should be able to see others as well. Children are less likely to run out in front of a car if they can actually see it coming towards them!
Perhaps the best option is to avoid masks or anything else that will block the wearer’s vision. Face paint and makeup are good alternatives, and they can allow children to express their creativity. Have children design their own face on paper, then help them paint it exactly how they want it. This is more fun and engaging for the child.
If you do use face paint, make sure the materials are safe and non-toxic. Test it on a small part of the wearer’s arm a week or more before Halloween to make sure it doesn’t irritate their skin.
5. Avoid colored contact lenses
It may be fun to have different colored eyes for Halloween, especially eye colors that aren’t natural. However, using colored contacts is not safe – especially without a prescription for wearing contacts.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, the Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists, and the American Optometric Association all warn against using decorative and colored contact lenses for Halloween because they haven’t been FDA approved.
Wearing contact lenses takes a learning curve, and Halloween shouldn’t be the first time you (or your children) wear them. They can dry out the wearer’s eyes, induce irritation, and even cause an allergic reaction or infection.
6. Wear correctly fitting costumes
It happens to every parent at least once while raising a child: He finds a costume he loves, but there isn’t one in his size. It can be difficult to tell your children, “No!” when they really want something, but in this case it’s best to think about their safety.
Make sure costumes fit your child’s body correctly. This is especially important for younger children. They should be able to walk easily in the costume without skirts, pant legs, or capes dragging. Loose-fitting or baggy clothing can cause trips, falls, or snags.
Also check to make sure the costume isn’t too small. Kids walk long distances on Halloween, so they need to be able to move freely. If their costume is too tight or too bulky, it may be hard to walk in, and could even cause problems like cutting off circulation.
Finally, don’t let kids wear oversized or high-heeled shoes. Again with the walking, if the footwear doesn’t fit right, they can cause blisters, shin splints, sore muscles, and other potentially more severe problems. Heels and long walks don’t add up to fun for anyone.
7. Avoid pointy pieces and sharp accessories
Leave the weapons – even fake ones – at home. If your child absolutely needs some kind of dastardly accessory with their costume, make sure it’s made of soft, flexible material that will not hurt anyone in case of an accident or a altercation.
Also, if you do let your child have an potentially dangerous accessor, be sure to set boundaries and teach them that it’s not okay to go around whacking other kids or inciting violence. It’s fun to pretend, but even the threat of a dangerous weapon can cause problems.
Keep Halloween fun and safe!
Halloween is meant to be scary – in a fun way. It’s not meant to be scary to parents because of an injured child. Halloween should be a fun holiday. Make sure it stays fun for you and your children by planning safe costumes.
You don’t want to end your trick-or-treat night with trip to Urgent Care – there’s candy to be eaten!