As the days turn cooler and the leaves take on vivid hues of orange, red, and yellow, the harvest comes to an end.
Marking this transition of seasons and the beginning of the cold, dark winter is All Hallows Day, celebrated in many ways throughout the world.
Children and adults, alike, don costumes to scare away the ghosts and evil spirits coming to claim the souls of the living during the hunger-filled winter days. This was the reality of the winters in years past, when snow covered the ground and no sun was around to nurture crops.
In modern times, Halloween is a children’s holiday filled with candy, pranks, bobbing for apples, and many creative costumes. During the fun, it is important to remember some safety guidelines for this festive night.
• Start the evening with a good meal. This will discourage children from filling up on treats and will allow parents time to examine the few pieces of candy that are eaten en route.
• Think about giving out non-food items such as pencils, pens, erasers, crayons, stickers or small notepads. With an epidemic rise of obesity and diabetes in this country, it is always nice to know you did your part.
• Ensure that costumes and shoes fit well and are short enough to prevent tripping. Choose bright costumes, or apply reflective tape to darker ones to increase visibility.
• Instead of using masks, which can impede vision, try non-toxic makeup and flame-resistant wigs, hats and accessories. As some people have more sensitive skin, be sure to first apply the makeup on a discreet area of the body or face and try on the costume early to see if anything causes sensitivity.
• Always carry a flashlight with fresh batteries and teach young children how to dial 911 if they are lost or in the midst of an emergency. Set up a meeting location in the trick-or-treating area, in case of separation.
• Never go trick or treating alone. Young children should always be accompanied by responsible adults.
• Older children and parents should plan and review an acceptable route, have cell phones available for easy contact and agree upon a time to return home.
• Only go to homes where the porch light is on, and never enter a home or car to obtain treats.
• Always stay in well-lit areas, using sidewalks and crosswalks. Do not cut across yards, driveways or alleys, or between parked cars.
• Never assume that you have the right of way, even if one car stops. It does not mean all of them will, as drivers may have trouble seeing trick-or-treaters in the dark. Statistics have shown that children between ages 5 and 14 are four times more likely to die on Halloween night than on any other night of the year, so please be careful!
Making safety the first priority ensures that your little ghouls, goblins, and vampires will rise again next year for a fun and festive start to the holiday season. Happy haunting!
For more information please visit the American Academy of Pediatrics at www.aap.org.