How to Stay Safe While Trick-or-Treating in Houston
Ask our patrons at Clinica Del Sol and it’s easy to see that Halloween Candy is not the only concern that Houston parents have. Halloween night is a big event full of unknown dangers and it is difficult to plan for them all. You want the kids to have fun and maybe have the trick-or-treating experience you remember when you were their age, but the communities we live in now are not the same ones from 20, 40, 60, 80 years ago. Below are 3 steps to help make Halloween safe, fun and injury-free this year.
Safe Halloween Costumes
Dressing up in fun costumes is a big part of many Halloween traditions. For one night kids, teens and adults get to transform into whatever they choose to be. Sometimes our imaginations get us the costume that is perfect, but by the end of the night, it is sweaty, stinky, itchy, and has been tripped over by so many people it is practically ruined. That doesn’t sound so fun in hindsight. Listed below are things to keep in mind when picking and dressing-up.
- They need to be visible. Make sure that you can see your kids and pick them out of a crowd of children. Adding glow sticks or lights to the costume can make sure that they don’t disappear in the dark. Make sure your kid can also see you and carry a flashlight and extra glow sticks. Avoid dressing in a costume that will make it hard for your kid to know you from the other adults around.
- The Costume should be the right size. Make sure that the costume fits the kid properly and isn’t going to cause injury by dragging, slipping or catching on fire. Don’t get a costume that will be too tight and uncomfortable either.
- Tripping and fire concerns. No matter what the costume, do not let your kid walk around Houston without shoes on! The fairy, monkey, or baby costume may not have come with shoes, and the comfortable walking sneakers may not be what they want to wear but the kids will be grateful by the end of the night when their feet are healthy and no one was carried to each house for the last hour of trick-or-treating because their feet hurt, or carried to the emergency room because they stepped on a piece of glass, a nail, or any other horrible incident.
Other than the shoes, make sure that the costume itself does not have pieces coming off that will trip the kid. That is not to say that they cant wear their adorable tail or cape, but the length and position need to be safe. Pumpkins, lanterns and other Halloween lighting can get very hot throughout the night or may even be an open flame. The loose bits of the costume should be at a safe hight, based on the kid’s hight, and that the costume is made of flame-resistant materials if possible.
- Safe weapons and other accessories. Anything that will be in hand when the kid is walking and playing with their friends needs a smooth and rounded edge or tip. Eyes and skin can be poked or slashed by accident. Swords, knives, wands, and anything that is realistically sharp should be avoided. Weapons don’t need to be realistic to pull off a costume and make sure the kids are having fun.
- Check the masks can see and breathe. If the costume comes with a mask, make sure it fits the head comfortably and isn’t going to rub and chafe during the night. Avoid masks with eye and breathing openings that are small and hidden, as it will make it difficult for the kid to move safely in their environment and difficult to breathe. If possible avoid masks altogether and opt for non-toxic FACE paint or makeup. When applying either, make sure the paint or make-up has been tested on a small patch of the kid’s skin and left to sit for a couple of hours. If there is no harmful reaction then the substance is safe to use.
- Trick-Or-Treat with Adult Supervision. In a separate article titled 4 Easy Steps to Safer and Healthier Candy Fun in Houston, TX, this writer wrote about Halloween Candy safety hazards and candy-related concerns for Halloween. If this topic is concerning for you, please read the full article. Below are key points to remember when it comes to candy.
Children under 12 should not Trick-or-treat alone.
Trick-or-treat as a group. The more adults to supervise, the better.
Go to houses with festive illumination or lit porch lights only.
Always have a line-of-sight to your kid.
Keep the children and yourself hydrated. Cary water all the time.
Something that this author’s parents, aunts, and uncles would do every Halloween would be to put all the children in a group and then some parents would go out with the kids, with the other parents left on door duty or a Halloween get-together. Every 15 or 30 minutes a parent would hop in a car and drive to a designated neighborhood-based check-point, one of many. to check on the group. More water? Tired kid? Scared kid? Injured kid? All this could be taken care of quickly, give support to the walking parents and be ready in a lost child situation or other emergency assistance.
Not all cars are trying to be safe on the Houston streets that night. Careless, drunk, underage and other dangerous driving situations could be around the corner, so make sure to follow all road and pedestrian safety laws. Use cross-walks, stay as a group and do not loiter in the street. There are older kids and suspicious adults with bullying or other nefarious intentions out on Halloween, but staying together and following the law will go a long way to relieve any fears that might come when preparing for trick-or-treating.
Make Sure they have ID
With all the preparations to make sure your kids stay safe, it is also important to prepare for a parents worst Halloween nightmare. If the child gets lost. In these situations we’ve seen on TV and in the movies, this is when the parent panics and runs around screaming for help and frantically searches without finding any trace of what happened. It’s important to handle these situations in another way.
- Make sure they have ID. Before leaving the house, make sure that each costume has an ID tag with their
- parents phone number and
- health concerns or disabilities that need to be addressed when they are found.
- Stay calm. Look around behind and in front of you. The could be close by and you just can’t see them.
- Call for back-up. Another reason for planned checkpoints throughout the night is to be ready and provide quick help in an emergency situation. If you are single or are not able to have another parent or guardian you know on standby, don’t hesitate to calmly ask another trick-or-treating parent for help.
- Know what their costume looks like. The more details you remember the better another adult can help you look. Also being able to describe or show a picture of them without the costume is always a good idea.
- Wait for an answer. When calling their name, make sure you leave space within calls for your child to answer back and you can hear it. 5-10 seconds is all you need but it doesn’t have to be exact. You are listening for an answer not counting seconds.
- Get the police involved ASAP. At this point in the search, if the child hasn’t been found by parent or assistance, or anyone searching, call 911.
Yes, that last section can be very scary to think about, but it is worry that can be avoided if you are prepared. Tell your kids that these steps involving costume, makeup, ID tags, adult supervision and anything else you choose to utilize is to keep them safe. Preparation is not to cause anxiety or make Halloween a scary event but is empowering all of Houston to be safe and have a fun night with no injury, fussing, aching, or lost kids.
If you’re interested in other ways to have a healthier and safer Halloween celebration, check out our article, “4 Easy Steps to Safer and Healthier Halloween Fun in Houston“.