Trick Or Treat for Fun and Safety!!

Halloween is a much anticipated event in my household, even with my girls solidly in middle school now. I think the attraction of the day is doing some thing so childish no one wants to admit it’s fun. Think about it! How often can we all do the toddler dress up thing and actually get away with it without anyone batting an eye? Plus, don’t forget the sinful treats….

The candy part of Halloween causes a bit of a panic in some families but really shouldn’t. Part of being healthy is learning to eat everything in moderation and that includes the occasional indulgence. The key is to plan for it. Ideally, we’d have all our kids out and about the entire week before to preburn some calories – but that hardly happens. Trick or Treating itself is a calorie burning event so don’t discount that – just keep the candy eating at the end to a piece or two. As the next few days march on, the key is to allow a piece or two of candy but with increased activity. You could even go so far as to make it a cause and effect: if you want candy, you will move more. Making it fun – go outside as a group and walk around the block or toss around a ball. Increase your child’s activity for 20-30 minutes more each day your child eats candy and that will sufficiently buffer the extra calories.

I wouldn’t suggest keeping the candy around indefinitely – after all, it is a treat. In my house, we give it really just the equivalent of a long weekend. In past years, we’ve given away the candy but this year I’ve stumbled upon a new idea: my dentist is collecting candy for $1.00 a piece. That sounds like a great idea!! And, to make good use of the funds, I’m thinking of using that money for Toys For Tots when the winter holidays roll around. I bet your community has some sort of candy swap – make a few calls or check with your dentist.

Finally, since Halloween occurs in the dark, involves costumes that have all sorts of accessories and there are often pumpkins light with candles, it’s important to consider a few simple safety tips. Here’s a list I pulled together a few years ago from tip list put out by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Red Cross :

* Costumes: Costumes should be bright and short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with fire-related objects, like Jack-o-lanterns. All costume material should be flame resistant. Make sure your child’s shoes fit well and that they are dressed for the weather – Halloween is often very chilly! Use make-up instead of masks; masks can block vision.
* Lighting: Carry flashlights, reflective trick-or-treat bags, or the ready-to-use glow sticks to make sure each child is easily seen.
* Supervision: Especially for older kids that are going out without an adult, make sure emergency identification (name, address, phone number) is discreetly tagged within Halloween attire or on a bracelet.
* Pumpkins: Instead of carving pumpkins, consider decorating with markers and paint. Also consider battery-powered lights for the pumpkin instead of candles.
* Path To Your Door: At your home, remove anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations. Make sure your outdoor lights are on and the walkways are free of wet leaves. Do not overload electrical outlets with holiday lighting or special effects.
* Route Planning: If your kids are going out alone, make sure everyone knows the route ahead of time. Agree on a specific time when revelers must return home. Make sure someone in the group has a watch and a cell phone for emergencies. Make sure a parent or older teenager accompanies children, especially small children.
* Candy Safety: Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items. Explain to your kids to not snack on the candy until you have a chance to inspect the loot. One way to curtail snacking while out is to make sure your kids have a good dinner before heading out. Avoid “homemade” edible treats – you can’t be sure what is inside.
* Night Safety:
*keep flashlights on
*stay with their groups at all times
*only go to homes with a porch light on
*remain on well-lit streets and use sidewalks
*never cut across yards or use alleys.
*never enter a stranger’s home or car for a treat
*obey all traffic and pedestrian rules
*call 911 for any suspicious or unlawful activity.

Have a great time and enjoy the fantasy that the evening brings to our lives – and be safe!