Every year around Halloween, parents start trying to balance keeping kids safe and letting them have fun—and a little freedom. This year, in particular, we’re hearing a lot of questions about Fentanyl and whether parents should really be worried about drugs in trick or treat bags. We asked Dr. Katherine Noble (“Dr. Katy”) of Sound Beach Pediatrics in Greenwich, CT, our top questions about Halloween safety. (Spoiler alert: Yes, parents of older kids and teens should be wary of all drugs including Fentanyl that is being packaged in ways that appeal to kids, but not necessarily more so on Halloween.)
What are some ways to keep kids safe on Halloween?
Halloween is an exciting experience for children to anticipate and enjoy! I am all for children and their families having FUN on this occasion!
Safety is key of course, especially as Halloween Trick or Treating generally starts at dusk and continues into the evening, when visibility is less than optimal or poor. Safety starts in advance, with an age-appropriate conversation with your child about key safety points and your expectations. Your child should know the reasons behind your guidance (ie. “THE WHY”) ….not to frighten your child, but rather to engage your child. Building your child’s knowledge and understanding will help support good decision-making.
Love that – partnering with your child to keep them safe instead of just giving them rules to follow! What are some trusted resources for parents looking for the latest safety info for next Monday?
My favorite resource and guide for parents on health and safety for children is HealthyChildren.org. I like their succinct outline on key tips for Halloween Safety.
Among the numerous points made in this article, I believe these are most valuable:
1) Make sure your child’s costume is visible, bright and preferably reflective.
2) Make sure your child’s costume and shoes fit well, to avoid tripping and injury.
3) Choose flame resistant costumes and wigs.
4) Remember nontoxic make up and hats are safer than masks.
5) Don’t allow your child to wear anything that could hurt them if they fell – this would include sticks, fake swords, and other sharp objects. And remind your children never to use any object as a weapon against other children or adults.
6) Consider safer alternatives to candles and fires when decorating your home and property for Halloween. If you choose to light a fire, make sure it is properly monitored by adults.
7) Make sure any pathway to your home is cleared, safe and properly illuminated for Trick or Treaters (and their parents).
8) Make sure any pets are “off guard” and kept inside your home to avoid jumping or biting incidents, which can be scary for children and their pet owners.
Any other tips for trick-or-treating safety that aren’t mentioned above?
Parents, make sure you are present and properly monitoring your Trick or Treaters. Choose safe, known neighborhoods for your children to Trick or Treat. Young children should always be accompanied by a responsible adult.
For older children, please make they know how and where to reach you and have a clear dialogue about the route they will take and the time they will be expected home. Remind them to carry a cell phone, travel in groups, walk in well-lit areas and on sidewalks, and never to assume right-of-way.
Set the expectation that when your children finish Trick Or Treating, you would like to take a look at their candy collection to ensure everything is recognizable, properly packaged, and safe for consumption. Parents of children with serious food allergies should exercise further caution to avoid any surprise allergenic exposures.
Speaking of candy inspection, how big is this issue regarding Fentanyl in Halloween baskets?
With regard to recent concerns raised about Fentanyl-laced candy, my honest opinion is that if the DEA is concerned about it, parents should be, too. The DEA launched its “One Pill Can Kill” campaign because fake pills are easily accessible and can be made to look like other prescription medications (which may be tempting for experimenting teens). Parents should speak plainly with tweens and teens about the dangers of opioids and other drugs because your child will likely be presented with an opportunity to try something dangerous in their lifetime.
Always a good idea to be sure kids know the dangers, and your expectations about drugs, not just around Halloween. Thank you!
To read more about Halloween safety from the American Academy of Pediatrics, click here.