October 22, 2014

Make Halloween fun, not scary, for kids and teenagers

UAB Youth Safety Lab offers tips for safe holiday fun.
Written by: Katherine Shonesy
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halloween webWhile Halloween is a favorite holiday for many children and teenagers, it also presents challenges for parents concerned with safety. Halloween can be safe and fun for all involved.

“Children should enjoy the holiday,” said David Schwebel, Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham psychologist and director of the UAB Youth Safety Lab. “It should be a fun time for family and friends, but safety is important too. Parents need to think about safety on the roads, safety with pumpkin carving and safety with candy.”

This year’s Halloween is on a Friday night, which is important to keep in mind, according to Schwebel.

“There are many different safety issues to take into consideration, such as making sure children aren’t out late unsupervised with the holiday falling on a weekend night this year,” Schwebel said. “Because school isn’t in session the following day, parents may be tempted to allow children to stay out later than usual.”

Schwebel cautions that allowing children to stay out late unsupervised is not safer on a holiday than it would be on any other day.

Schwebel offers additional tips that parents can follow to help ensure this Halloween is a safe one:

Jack-o’-Lanterns

  • Adults can teach older children to cut jack-o’-lanterns and light candles.
  • Younger children can scoop out the seeds and draw designs on the pumpkins with a marker. 

Trick-or-Treating

  • Wear light clothing and reflective strips, and carry a flashlight.
  • Children should be supervised by an adult until the age of 10.
  • Look both ways, and cross the street only at crosswalks.

Halloween Costumes

  • Wear costumes that do not restrict vision.
  • Make sure that costumes and shoes permit safe, comfortable walking.
  • Avoid loose hanging clothing that could catch fire near candles.
  • Do not overdo it with scary costumes for and around younger children. Young children can be sensitive to unfamiliar, scary things, so caution should be used to avoid anxiety.

Motorists

  • Watch for children.
  • Drive more slowly than usual.
  • Avoid distractions while driving.

Safe Candy 

  • Inspect all candy before it is eaten, and discard treats that are not sealed tightly.
  • Fruit should be thrown away, or else peeled, washed carefully and cut into small pieces.
  • Watch out for choking hazards with young children.
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