Halloween Safety

If you do participate in Halloween, here are some tips we originally published in 2009. Have a good night, whatever you’re doing!

Pumpkin Festival
source: nates_pics

Halloween is an exciting time of year for kids, and to help ensure they have a safe holiday, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

All Dressed Up

  • 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.
  • Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.
  • When shopping for costumes, wigs, and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
  • If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
  • Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
  • Teach children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they have an emergency or become lost.

Carve a Niche

  • Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers.  Then parents can do the cutting.
  • Votive candles are safest for candle-lit pumpkins.
  • Candle-lit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.

Home Safe Home

  • To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes, and lawn decorations.
  • Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
  • Wet leaves should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
  • Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.

On the Trick-or-Treat Trail

  • 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.
  • Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or Treaters:
    1. Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
    2. Carry a cell phone for quick communication.
    3. Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
    4. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
    5. Never cut across yards or use alleys.
    6. Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
    7. 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!
  • Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.

Healthy Halloween

  • A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
  • Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
  • 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.
  • Try to ration treats for the days following Halloween.

© 10/09 American Academy of Pediatrics

For even more safety tips, to send these tips to a friend, or to download them in Spanish, visit http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/octhalloween.cfm.

Trends & Truth Online: What’s Too Scary for Kids? by Mike Nappa

ghost-pumpkin_mod
source: xerhino

It’s October! And during the Halloween season, everyone loves a good scare—especially children. But how can you tell what’s too scary for your kids? Clinical psychologist, Dr. Laurel Basbas, offers a little advice.

 

T&TO: What’s your perspective on “harmless fright entertainment” for kids 12 and under?

Basbas: In my view, there is no harmless horror. Horror, fright, scary movies; all depend on igniting the ANS (autonomic nervous system) so that the child (or person) reacts with an automatic adrenaline surge. Unfortunately the horror industry banks on the fact that terror is exciting (literally the ANS goes into an excited state). They bank on creating “adrenaline junkies” (people and children that love the high of the excited ANS). Allowing kids to think of the “fright response” as fun, without educating them as to its effects and the inherent dangers, can leave them vulnerable to pursuing the adrenaline rush through whatever means they can find.

Having said that, children will seek a scary story or experience to master anxiety. Facing fears in small manageable doses can be of benefit, allowing the child to learn that s/he can overcome anxieties. In small, short doses, a child faces fears and realizes he can survive the scary moment or experience.

 

T&TO: Why do kids crave fright entertainment?

Basbas: It is “cool” to like what their peers like. They [also] crave the adrenal rush.

Another reason kids crave fright is the need to master anxiety. As I mentioned earlier, facing fears in small, manageable doses, is helpful. To hear a scary story or see a scary show and survive does help the child. He feels, “I am OK, I can live through a fearful experience.”

 

T&TO: What’s too scary for kids?

Basbas: It takes a discerning parent to really read their child correctly. Kids usually do not have the discernment to know what scares them, and they may not want to admit they are afraid. No shows that scare either parent’s “inner child” can be a good gauge. Lots of adults don’t want to be scared.

For the kids that feel frightened by the [October] media deluge, teach the younger ones the difference between what is pretend and what is real. Reassure them that the witches, monsters, wolves, ghosts, etc. are pretend and will not become alive to harm them. Pray with them, reading scriptures that promise protection from evil. Psalm 91 is always encouraging, and can provide wonderful discussion about God’s care.

 

T&TO: What’s the best way for a Christian parent respond to kid-centric fright media during Halloween?

Basbas: Family activity where kids count on the stability and protection of parents helps with any activity. No scary movies without parents present, so there can be a healthy discussion with mom and dad later. Essentially if the entertainment has a redemptive purpose, like the Tolkien series, and the parents use the material to have discussions, it can be instructive.

 

Have a pop culture question for Trends & Truths? Email it to parentlife@lifeway.com!

***

Mike Nappa is a bestselling author, a noted commentator on pop culture, and founder of the website for parents, FamilyFans.com.

Real Life Solutions: No Halloween

mintle03(2).jpg

We are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to parentlife@lifeway.com and include “? for Dr. Mintle” on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share.

Q: My husband and I decided we are not going to celebrate Halloween. Our child is 3 years old, and she doesn’t know much about the holiday yet, but I have been surprised at how many people, Christians included, have given us a hard time about our decision. What is your opinion?

A: After researching the roots of Halloween, I am not a fan either. I don’t like the connection to occult roots, the scary costumes, the gore, and the idea of frightening kids and desensitizing them to the dark spiritual world that does exist. However, every family needs to make a decision as to what they are going to do with Halloween. Some people allow their kids to dress up in fun costumes and trick or treat. Others attend alternate harvest parties at their churches. Some feel alternatives should not be offered as it assumes kids are missing something.

The important thing to do is research the holiday, pay attention to what you feel the Lord is telling you to do, and talk as a family. Pray for wisdom and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, not other people. Then help your child understand the position you take and why.

Other people should respect your decision. You don’t need the approval of others. Romans 12:2 reminds us not to be conformed to the world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Taking a stand for what you believe to be true based on Scripture is an important lesson to model for children. Perhaps that is what you will teach your child as she gets older.

What do you think, PL Readers?

Celebrating Fall Fun

I love fall and all that it brings — cooler weather, changing leaves, pumpkins, apple cider, and so much more. While your family may or may not officially be celebrating Halloween, there are lots of fun ways you can celebrate fall!

lion.jpgYesterday evening, we took Jack (almost 16 months old) to a fall festival at our church. He got to wear his Halloween costume (a lion) and play in a big bouncy play yard with lots of plastic balls. He had a great time! We are not going trick-or-treating with Jack this year, simply because it would be so much work and he can’t eat (and doesn’t need) the candy! (And neither do we for that matter!) We hope to go to a pumpkin farm on Saturday morning with a group of friends from church and then spend the evening handing out candy, watching movies, and enjoying some good fall food!

How does your family celebarate fall? Tell us about your favorite fall activities!

Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween is an exciting time of year for kids, and to help ensure they have a safe holiday, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

All Dressed Up

  • 89_halloween.jpgPlan 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.
  • Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.
  • When shopping for costumes, wigs, and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
  • If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
  • Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
  • Teach children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they have an emergency or become lost.

Carve a Niche

  • Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers.  Then parents can do the cutting.
  • Votive candles are safest for candle-lit pumpkins.
  • Candle-lit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.

Home Safe Home

  • To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes, and lawn decorations.
  • Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
  • Wet leaves should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
  • Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.

On the Trick-or-Treat Trail

  • 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.
  • Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or Treaters:
    1. Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
    2. Carry a cell phone for quick communication.
    3. Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
    4. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
    5. Never cut across yards or use alleys.
    6. Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
    7. 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!
  • Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.

Healthy Halloween

  • A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
  • Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
  • 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.
  • Try to ration treats for the days following Halloween.

© 10/09 American Academy of Pediatrics

For even more safety tips, to send these tips to a friend, or to download them in Spanish, visit http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/octhalloween.cfm.