Little ghosts and goblins will soon roam the streets.
It’s no secret children love dressing up and are excited about the big candy haul. Weren’t you? Halloween is now the second largest commercially successful celebration in Canada every year.
And while many adults love to join in the fun with décor, homeowners, parents and drivers have added responsibilities that night to ensure it’s safe for everyone.
Carfax Canada offers these tips to motorists on Halloween night. While some may sound obvious, keep in mind excited neighbourhood children – especially those unaccompanied by an adult – may dart out on the street at any time.
- Slow down Reducing your speed can prevent many scary situations. Assume that if a child is near the road they might start to cross it without looking, so keep your speed low so you can stop in time.
- Avoid subdivisions If you’re not joining in on trick-or-treating, trick or treaters are usually out in the greatest numbers from 6 – 9 p.m.
- Watch for parked cars Vehicles parked on the street can block your view of kids walking out from behind them. Proceed with caution.
- Turn on your headlights earlier If you have your lights on at dusk, or even a bit before then, it makes it easier for pedestrians to see you even if it’s still light out.
- Use extra patience at stops. When approaching crosswalks, stop lights, stop signs and yields, allow for a little more time. Check multiple times before proceeding.
- Plan for a longer trip. If you are going out on Halloween night, give yourself extra time to get to your destination so you don’t need to rush through neighbourhoods.
- Don’t drink and drive It’s simple: If you’re drinking, don’t drive. Out at a party? Plan for a designated driver, use rideshare or call a taxi.
Many adults get into the spirit. But it’s important to make your home safe for children. Health Canada and other experts recommend:
- Remove objects around the outside of your house that could cause children to trip or fall.
- Turn on your outdoor lights, replace burnt out bulbs to increase visibility.
- Sweep wet leaves from your steps and driveway.
- Use alternative to candles in your pumpkins, such as a flashlight or a battery-operated candle.
- Avoid using Halloween candles with multiple wicks. They can produce a large flame with intense heat that can ignite nearby materials like curtains and windowsills.
- Check indoor and outdoor decorative lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections. Do not overload extension cords.
- Make sure the lights are certified by a recognized organization like the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or the Underwriters' Laboratory of Canada (ULC).
The Canadian Pediatric Society offers these additional safety tips for parents to keep their children safer:
- Don’t use masks which can make it hard for children to see what’s around them, including cars. Try a hypoallergenic, non-toxic make-up kit instead.
- Costumes should be a light-coloured material that will be more visible to motorists. Even better, add strips of reflective tape on the front and back.
- Costumes should fit properly to prevent trips and falls. Avoid items such as oversized shoes, long dresses and capes.
- Dress your child for the weather. Add layers if needed.
- Put your child’s name, address and phone number on their costume.
- Don’t criss-cross back and forth across the street. Use the sidewalk whenever possible. If there’s no sidewalk, walk on the side of the road facing traffic. Walk don’t run.
- Children under 10 should be accompanied by an adult. Older children should trick-or-treat with a group of friends.
- Give older children a flashlight and a cell phone. Know their route and set a curfew.
- Be sure your children know never go inside a stranger’s house or car.
- Tell your children not to eat anything until they get home and you can examine them. They should only eat factory-wrapped treats, not homemade.
Be aware of food allergies
Many children have food allergies or sensitivities. Health Canada suggests:
- Consider giving out treats that don’t contain ingredients like peanuts, tree nuts, milk and egg. These ingredients can cause severe reactions.
- If your child has food allergies, read labels carefully and avoid candies that do not have an ingredient list, or that have a “may contain” statement that lists ingredients to which he or she is allergic.
- If your child needs an epinephrine auto-injector because of a food allergy, make sure it is available when they are eating.
- Be careful of any treats that could be potential choking hazards such as chewy candies, peanuts and hard candies.
- Check toys or novelty items for small parts and don’t let children under three years of age play with them.