By Shilpa Amin Shah, MD, FACEP
Autumn is the season of pumpkin-spiced lattes, hayrides and of course, Halloween! People dress in funny or scary costumes and travel neighborhood to neighborhood asking for treats. To keep children safe, some small towns host a Halloween Safe Night at the community center or local school so kids can trick-or-trick indoors. It is cliché, but times have changed and on top of finding the right costume and the perfect treat to distribute, there is an added pressure of making sure your child stays safe on Halloween. eMedical Urgent Care understands your worries, as some of our physicians are parents too. We hope these tips help you stay stress free while your child remains safe.
The best part of Halloween is deciding on a costume. Whether you are making or buying your child’s costume, comfort is important, as it will be worn for several hours. Here are tips to keep in mind when choosing the right costume:
- Avoid high-heeled footwear.
- Make sure the costume is flame resistant.
- Fit is important as you don’t want your child tripping over a long dress or cape.
- Watch out for long dangling pieces of costume that could be tripped over.
- Swords, knives and similar costume accessories should be short, soft and flexible.
- If your child is wearing a mask, make sure that it’s comfortable, has adequate eye holes and proper ventilation.
Decorative contact lenses have grown increasingly popular in recent years. Despite their appeal, do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses often will make claims such as “one size fits all,” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is dangerous. They can cause pain, inflammation and serious eye disorders and infections, which may require a visit to urgent care or lead to permanent vision loss.
Children travel door-to-door, say “trick-or-treat,” and then receive something good to eat. When your child is in costume, especially while wearing a wig or mask, it’s easy to lose sight of them. This should be an overall enjoyable experience; just follow these simple steps:
- Always walk in groups with a trusted adult.
- Encourage children to remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
- Remind them not to enter a stranger’s house.
- Carry flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
- Light-producing or reflective devices (glow sticks, reflective tape) will make the wearer more noticeable in the dark.
- Bring bottled water to quench the thirst of active trick-or-treaters.
Consider pinning a piece of paper with your child’s name, address and phone number inside your child’s costume in case you get separated. Teach your child how to dial 9-1-1, or their local emergency number, should they have an emergency or become lost.
Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Although tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items. Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them.
Try healthy or sugar-free alternativesto candy, such as fruit snacks, individual popcorn bags or raisins as giveaways. Mini bottles of water or juice boxes also are great giveaways.
Some of my favorite non-candy items are glow stick jewelry, stickers, glittery pencils, spider rings, temporary tattoos, play-doh minis or Halloween erasers.
Whether you choose to eat sugary sweets or stay healthy with glow sticks, eMedical Urgent Care hopes you stay safe and keep these helpful tips in mind.
Shilpa Amin-Shah, MD, FACEP, is a full-time attending emergency physician at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J. Dr. Amin is also the Director of the Physician Recruiting Team with Emergency Medical Associates, Parsippany, N.J. She received a bachelor’s degree from Rosemont College in Rosemont, Pa., and her medical degree from SUNY Downstate, Brooklyn, N.Y. She completed the Jacobi/Montefiore Emergency Medicine Residency Program at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and served as chief resident. She enjoys spending her free time cooking, traveling and trying new cuisines with her husband and two young children.