Monday, October 24, 2016

Trick or Treat Safety Reminders for Parents and Children This Halloween

For the past three years, my kids have had the fun of going trick or treating in the quite posh subdivision where my sister’s family lives. Since 2006, our October 31st gatherings had, more or less, become one of the traditions our clan now observes. We let the kids roam around the neighborhood while the adults follow closely.

This year, our families look forward once again to another great day of bonding especially because we had a new addition to the clan. We are all excited to bring along my eight-month-old niece, Leigh Isys, and dress her up in her own princess costume.

We are a large group when the kids go trick or treating so a lot of safety measures and rules are imposed before we set out.

Halloween 2008
I rightfully guessed that we may be missing a thing or two so I asked Geraldine Alcantara-Franco, M.D., a pediatrician who holds clinic at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Alabang, Muntinlupa, to also give us additional reminders on how to maximize the fun without taking any risks. I am so glad I did!

Here are our combined tips:

1. First and foremost, toddlers and small children must be accompanied by responsible adults who are aware and alert of their surroundings.

2. Make sure that the kids are dressed in comfortable clothes so they can enjoy the activities. Know that it is not enough they wear very beautiful and/or impressive gory costumes:

• Avoid outfits that can suffocate the kids (e.g. a too rigid collar, heavy fabrics, tight masks, etc.). Make certain that they have breathing spaces.
• Ensure that the costumes and makeup are made of hypoallergenic materials to avoid any allergic reactions to fiber, paint, etc.
• Pass up on costumes with strings as they might accidentally choke or strangle a child.
• Be careful of costumes that need pointed objects as accessories. Buy those made of soft plastic with pointy ends that bend.
• If possible, have the kids wear comfy shoes (after the judging is over, if they are joining a best costume contest) like sneakers when they start roaming around the village instead of leather ones which may hurt and tire feet more easily. Ballet shoes with flimsy soles are also not ideal for walking in the streets. It’s not the end of the world if the footwear doesn’t closely match the costume, you know.

3. Orient everyone in the group before setting out. Set some ground rules such as:
• Do not run and always walk on the sidewalk, never in the middle of the street even if you don’t see any vehicles coming.
• Never push other kids! Fall in line at each house and always say thank you after receiving treats.
• No eating of candies during trick or treating. Let mom or dad check them all out first, later.
• Always keep track of the names of the streets you are on and text or call companions immediately in case you get lost! (I let my two older kids bring their mobile phones as they sometimes go ahead of the group when they get bored waiting for the smaller kids to catch up.)
• Use flashlights when it gets dark and you’re walking along dimly-lighted streets. (Glow sticks and accessories like headbands or wands with flashing lights also come in handy as they help warn approaching vehicles of your presence.)

4. Keep everyone well hydrated when walking around. Bring along enough drinking water. Avoid giving iced tea or soda as these may warrant requests to go to the bathroom when you have already walked far from home

5. Bring a toddler’s stroller along. Even if they don’t want to sit there at the onset, these little ones would eventually get tired of walking and would most likely want to be carried.

6. At the end of the day, verify first that the treats gathered are safe for the kids:
• Check for ingredients (e.g. peanuts, artificial coloring/flavoring) that may cause allergic or hypersensitivity reactions in delicate children.
• Inspect the expiration date on each food item.
• Refrain from eating anything that has questionable packaging.

7. Give children choices on what treats they would like to eat first. The rest can be saved for other days. Before consuming the good stuff though, make sure that kids thoroughly wash (sing Happy Birthday twice) their hands with soap and water. Remind them too to brush their teeth after eating sweets.

Halloween, like Christmas, is definitely not only for kids. I am sure other parents out there have as much fun as their children do just by watching these young ones enjoy the day’s happenings. We do, and you should too!

Have a great time going trick or treating!

(Note: this article was originally published in BusinessWorld Online's HerWord.com on October 26, 2009) 
© Ruth Manimtim-Floresca


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