Forget the Tricks and Keep the Treats: Halloween Safety Tips for Kids

Image via Unsplash by Connor Baker

Fall is here, and with the festivities come many temptations and goodies offered by the approaching holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving. Following a few do’s and don’ts can make the celebrations a little safer and healthier for both children and parents.

Treats for Special Diets

Food allergies can put a damper on any kid’s fun, especially during Halloween. Examine the label of all candies to ensure your child’s allergen isn’t present. Don’t allow your child to eat any home-baked goods.

Don’t take ingredients for granted. Favorites that checked out last Halloween may have different ingredients this year. Also, mini versions of candy might have different ingredients than their full-size versions. To be sure last year’s treats aren’t this year’s trick, impose a “no eating while trick-or-treating” rule.

Handing out candy to little ghosts and goblins on Halloween is part of the holiday experience. Here’s a fun and easy way to make it more inclusive for the one in 13 kids who have food allergies or intolerances. The “Teal Pumpkin Project,” created by the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) organization, suggests placing a teal-colored pumpkin out front signaling it contains allergy-friendly candy or foods as well as nonedible treats like small toys, glow sticks, or stickers.

Keeping a watchful eye on your kids while they enjoy their loot is important. Food allergies can develop at any stage of life. Every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room in the United States, and no parents need that type of scare on Halloween.

A child having an allergic reaction may manifest symptoms of putting their hands in their mouth, pulling or scratching at their tongues, slurring their words, or having their voice become hoarse or squeaky. Other symptoms you may see are skin changes such as a rash and swelling with possible itching, runny nose, congestion, abnormal breathing sounds (such as wheezing, stridor or cough), increased work of breathing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, feeling dizzy or passing out.

Tricks on Keeping Them Healthy

The spookiest holiday of the year is a good marker for the start of flu season as well. Add COVID-19 stay-at-home requirements, and cooped-up kids will likely be eager to get out of the house to enjoy Halloween parties with their friends. Getting a flu shot two weeks before mischief night can help keep your child happy and healthy past Halloween and into the family holiday season.

It is also a great time to remind your child about proper hygiene as they travel door to door speaking to neighbors to get treats and possibly petting friendly dogs being escorted by adults on the street. Remind them that washing their hands frequently will help keep them healthy. With the increase in sugar intake in your child’s diet, it is also important to remind them to brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste regularly and floss daily as well.

For parents with children who wear face paint or makeup, it’s important to check out these ingredients as well. Harmful ingredients in face makeup can trigger allergies or cause problems like skin irritation. Some tips to avoid a bad reaction include avoiding makeup with heavy metals like cadmium, mercury, lead and arsenic. To avoid infection, wash hands before applying makeup and never share makeup with others. A good practice is to test a small amount of makeup a few days before to see if your child will have a reaction. When in doubt, talk to your child’s pediatrician.

Stay safe, healthy, and happy this Halloween and be sure to remain healthy throughout the rest of the holiday season by visiting your family provider to get your family’s flu shots.

Dr. Ashley Dunn-Kerr is a Frederick-based provider with MedExpress Urgent Care.