A crisp wind blows, leaves crunch under foot, the smell of pumpkins and burning candles drift through the air – then you know it’s Halloween!
Many people know the word Halloween is the shortening of the term All Hallows Eve. But, did you know that Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced ‘sah-win’). In the Gaelic culture, the festival was a celebration of the end of harvest season; and a time to take stock in supplies and prepare for winter. The Gaels believed that on October 31st, the boundaries between the world of the living and the dead overlapped. They believed the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc like sickness and damaged crops. To scare away the evil spirits, they burned bonfires and wore masks and costumes.
Scare up some safe memories of your own this Halloween by following these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
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 or contact with flame.
- Add reflective tape or stickers 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. Makeup should be tested ahead of time on a small patch of skin to ensure there are no allergies or irritations.
- When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
- Any toy weapons should be short, soft and flexible.
- Do not use decorative contact lenses sold at costume shops. These can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.
CARVING A NICHE:
- Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers. Then parents can do the cutting.
- Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
HOME SAFE HOME:
- To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, homeowners should make sure walkways and driveways are well-lit and clear of any trip hazards.
- 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.
- 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:
- Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
- Remember reflective tape for costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
- Carry a cellphone for quick communication.
- Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
- If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
- Never cut across yards or use alleys.
- Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
- 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.
- 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 and weeks following Halloween.