Halloween is a fun event that kids (young and old) look forward to every year. Around mid to the end of October, you’ll see a lot of Canadian homes spruced up with “scary” decorations. Many will also be thinking about the most creative costume they’ll wear to parties or for trick-or-treating on the 31st. Newcomers will find that it’s a great occasion to meet their neighbours and join in on good, harmless fun.
However, Halloween will be scary this year for a different reason. With the COVID-19 threat still present, expect some activities to be limited or scrapped altogether. Here are a few tips to keep your kids and yourself safe during the festivities:
Are you a newcomer parent buying a Halloween costume for your kid for the first time? There are so many choices and you’ll have a lot of fun picking! Ask your child what they would like or bring them with you to ensure that you’ll get the right kind and size. You can buy from places like Superstore, Costco, or seasonal Spirit Halloween or similar stores all over the city. Remember that it’s likely that your child will use the costume only once. It’s either they’ll grow out of it or their interest will change the following year. Practical parents can go to second-hand or thrift stores like Value Village, Goodwill, Plato’s Closet or Salvation Army for cheaper choices. Better yet, if you’re the creative type, make the costume with your child. There’s nothing more unique than a home-made costume.
Keep these safety tips in mind when choosing or making the costumes:
- Full masks and face coverings can make it hard for your kid to see while walking around trick-or-treating but they’re great protection from virus particles. Ensure that eye-holes are adequate or opt for a mask that doesn’t cover the eyes.
- Make sure that you’re using safe, hypoallergenic products if you’re using face paint. Also make sure to wash it off before they go to bed. Don’t use materials like strong glue, large pieces of glitter or glass shards, especially on skin. Check if wigs, beards, wings and tails are flame-retardant (read the package).
- Scarves, strings and ribbons can be choking hazards for the little ones. Look for velcro-fastened costumes instead. Also, long flowing gowns or heels on little witches or princesses can trip them when walking around the neighbourhood. See if they can walk properly before leaving the house (or shorten the length and let them wear heel-less, comfortable shoes).
- No culturally insensitive costumes please! This means no ceremonial headdresses, blackface, or similar themes.
- October evenings are usually chilly so make sure that your kid is wearing layers and is warm enough to stay outside for some time.
- Brightly coloured costumes are great. This makes your child visible, especially to motorists. You can also stick reflective tape strips on the front and back of costumes to add visibility. You can buy this kind of tape at any hardware store.
6 tips to have a safe Halloween without getting COVID-19, Kansas City Star
Lighting and decorations
- Make your yard safe – Clear out your yard and the path going to your door. Sweep away debris or leaves to make it safe for trick-or-treaters. Secure heavy décor so that they won’t fall on people (it can be windy this time of year!).
- Don’t use candles and flammable materials – Use battery-operated or LED lights for your Jack-o-lanterns, monsters and other lighted decorations for your indoor and outdoor displays.
- Turn your porch light on– Illuminate the path with bright lights to help trick-or-treaters get to your door safely.
There are no concrete directives yet about trick-or-treating, so parents are using a wait-and-see approach. If you do allow your kids to go, ensure your kids’ safety by following these tips:
- Wear masks and go with your “bubble” – Keep kids extra safe by letting them wear masks and going only with their siblings (or those within their household). Ask them not to mix with other clusters of kids.
- Bring hand sanitizers – Use sanitizer often for washing hands that get in contact with high contact objects like door bells and door knobs.
- Young kids need adult supervision – Kids below 12 years old must be accompanied by an adult when going around the neighbourhood. Expert parent tip: Feed your little tykes supper before going out trick-or-treating. They will have the energy to walk around and won’t be tempted to eat the candy right away (so that you’ll have the chance to inspect them first for hazards).
- Set some rules – Plan your route before setting out (and check the weather!). Go into familiar neighbourhoods as a group and establish some ground rules like no running, criss-crossing the streets or straying away from the group. Also, remind the kids to be polite. No grabbing someone else’s candy and to always say “thank you!” when given treats.
- Bring a flashlight and extra bags to hold candy.
- Go only to houses that have a porch light on. Tell your kids to stay on the porch and never go inside a stranger’s house.
- Check their loot first before they open and eat the candy or use toys. See if the packages are sealed and untampered. Throw away suspicious-looking candy and loose gummies, candy corn or other food that are not wrapped. Make sure that they brush their teeth before going to bed.
Stay tuned for developments and public health directives. Check Restoring Safe Services for the latest guidelines.Have fun and enjoy Halloween!
Article updated September 14, 2020.
Sources: Halloween safety: Tips for families, Caring for Kids and 15 trick-or-treating safety tips to ensure a happy and healthy Halloween, Joelene Huber, Today’s Parent. Accessed October 18, 2019.
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