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 with “scary” decorations. Many will also be thinking about the most creative costume they can wear to parties or for trick-or-treating on the 31st. Newcomers will find that it’s a great occasion to meet neighbours and join in on good, harmless fun.
However, with the COVID-19 threat still present, expect some activities to be limited or postponed for next year. Here are a few tips to keep your kids and yourself safe but still enjoy the celebration:
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 (don’t forget to ask your child what they might like)! You can buy from places like Superstore, Costco, or seasonal Spirit Halloween or similar stores all over the city.
But 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 next 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:
- Mask up – 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.
- Use safe materials – Make sure you’re using safe, hypoallergenic products if you’re using face paint. It’s also important to wash it off completely 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).
- Check for potential hazards – 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.
- Stay warm – October evenings are usually chilly so make sure that your kid is wearing layers and is warm enough to stay outside for some time.
- Make them shine – 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.
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 public directives yet about trick-or-treating, but if you do allow your kids to go, ensure their 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 hands that get in contact with 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. This way you’ll have the chance to inspect their loot 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. If you would like to participate in other Halloween events, check Kildonan Place and Grant Park Shopping Centres in Winnipeg (they are planning to offer outdoor or drive-through events) or ask your nearest Settlement Provider agencies for upcoming events.
Have a fun and safe Halloween!
Article updated October 15, 2021.
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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