Halloween safety tips: How to deal with candy, traffic, and the undead

Halloween is supposed to be fun, so don't spend it in the emergency room. Here are some tips and tricks for a safe Halloween.

Stay safe, Vancouver. (Still image from '30 Days of Night')

Tips for safe trick-or-treating

It's nearly Halloween. You've already filled your calendar with adults-only Halloween fun, but now it's time to think of the kids.

BC Children's Hospital and the Vancouver Observer will share a few Halloween rules with you.

Visibility

Help kids pick out costumes that fit properly, keep them warm and are bright. You want your children to be comfortable and visible to other trick-or-treaters and drivers on Halloween night. 

Okay, so ninja outfits are problematic, but the Eighties have got this one covered:

Supervised trick-or-treating

Make sure your children have a responsible adult to accompany them on their trick-or-treating adventure. Skip unlit houses, say the folks at BC Children's, and don’t approach unfamiliar animals.

Lisa Widas, Trauma Program Manager at BC Children's Hospital, says, “Your child may feel they’re too old to have an adult hang around while they trick-or-treat. Be there anyway, because Halloween is a special night and although it can be a lot of fun, it’s dark and can be chaotic. Having a responsible adult around helps keep children safe.” (Of course, you just want to go trick-or-treating, and that's okay.)

Jack-o-lantern safety

Division of labour is key to proper Jack-o-lantern carving. Delegate the design and drawing tasks to the youngest kids, so that they don't end up wielding sharp knives that grow more and more slippery as they accumulate pumpkin guts. Try LED lights instead of candles: they're safer for kids and more reliable on windy evenings. (Wait, that was only the wind, right??

Check that candy

The poisoned-candy scare from the early Eighties was an urban legend and things like pins in apples are vanishingly rare: only a handful of confirmed cases, ever, and nothing fatal. The Halloween-treat threats to your kids are far more pedestrian, but they do exist. The Provincial Health Services Authority says, "Children get excited about their candy hauls; keep them happy hauls by checking their treats before they eat them. If your child brings home fruit, make sure to wash and cut before eating. Avoid choking hazards for children under five by removing treats like hard candy, popcorn, and nuts."

Also don't take candy from clowns in unmarked white vans.

Besides, this gives you a prime opportunity to steal the best candy for yourself. Your parents did it to you, and now it's your turn to carry on the rich tradition of ganking the candy bars and leaving your offspring with the candy corn, rock-hard bubble gum, and syrupy suckers.

Drive safely this Halloween

“If you’re driving a vehicle – slow down – particularly when it gets dark, because it can be more difficult to see kids stepping from crosswalks or darting across a street,” says Dr. Ash Singhal, pediatric neurosurgeon and Director of Pediatric Trauma Program at BC Children’s Hospital.

Make sure Dr. Singhal is bored on Halloween night by watching for children as you drive, and not just at crosswalks. Kids (and adults) can dart into the road from anywhere, so stay vigilant.

You don't want to re-enact scenes from this book:

Okay, we're almost done. Here are a few more tips that BC Children's somehow managed to forget...

Identifying the bloodsuckers

Do you know what a vampire looks like? Are you sure?

There. Now you know.

It's a wolf, man

This is not a hipster. This is a werewolf. Stay away from werewolves, and do not feed them.

Zombies are not people, too

Vancouver may be bike-friendly, but stay away from Bicycle Girl.

Don't listen to her.

There you have it: some simple tips for a fun and safe Halloween. Enjoy.

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