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Have a happy and healthy Halloween

Children look forward to Halloween every year. They get to dress up as their favorite character, collect loads of candy, and might even be allowed to stay up past bedtime. It’s a fun occasion, however, there are some things parents should keep in mind to help their child stay safe and healthy while celebrating.

Be Careful with Costumes

Wearing clothes or costumes that your child is not used to can be a bit awkward and create challenges with their movement. Test fit their outfit so that they can get accustomed to it and if needed, you can alter it to make it safer and easier to wear. In addition to test fitting your clothing and costumes, be sure to consider your child’s footwear. More than likely, they will be walking from house to house, so make sure their shoes fit them appropriately which will help avoid trips and falls. If they get new shoes as part of their costume, break them in to prevent painful blisters. If you are extra worried about falls while out and about, accessories that could cause harm like swords or canes should not be included with this year’s costume.

Sunset occurs earlier during the fall and many community outings may occur after dark. Having a bright-colored costume or adding light reflectors not only helps you keep an eye on your children, but helps drivers also see them. Having a flashlight or headlamp is also a good idea.

Sweets and Treats

Eating sweets or candy in excess could upset your child’s stomach. Eating a healthy meal before venturing out for trick-or-treating can help them avoid overindulging in snacks as they walk about and give them enough energy to enjoy the fun.

We advise parents to check everything their kids bring home from trick-or-treating, so encourage your children to wait until after they’re home to enjoy any snacks they get. Look out for signs of candy that has been tampered with. This could include unusual coloration or wrapping, small tears or pinholes in wrappers, and goods that are not wrapped at all. If you have any doubts, throw it out. Do not keep homemade treats unless you know and trust the family that gave them to your children.

Young trick-or-treaters should avoid gum, hard candies, and other potential choking hazards. Familiarize yourself with the Heimlich maneuver just in case. Also, if you have any concerns about tainted candy the Poison Control Center is available 24 hours everyday and can be reached at 800-222-1222.

Stranger Danger

During Halloween festivities, kids can get carried away with all of the fun they’re having. It’s important that adults are with trick-or-treaters to supervise them and make sure that they stay safe. Only approach houses that are well-lit and remind your children to not enter any strangers’ homes or cars. You could also place emergency identification information discreetly inside the clothing of small children.

COVID-19

Considerations

We all know that COVID-19 is still a concern this holiday season. Each family must think about their own risk and tolerance during each Halloween event. To make trick-or-treating safer, avoid direct contact with other families and think of ways to incorporate masks into your costumes. Bring plenty of hand sanitizer to use throughout the night and wash your hands before handling treats.

If you’re not comfortable with trick-or-treating, there are several other fun things to do to celebrate Halloween. If you opt to stay in, have a few Halloween movies picked out to watch while enjoying treats at home. Pick up a few pumpkins to carve and take socially distant walks or drive to enjoy other homes’ jack-o-lanterns and decorations.

Vaccinations are the best way to prevent COVID-19 and keep our communities safe. For more information about vaccinations at UPMC, visit vaccine.UPMC.com.

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Olufunke Oladejo, MD, is a pediatrician with UPMC Pediatrics and sees patients at UPMC Williamsport, 700 High St., 9th Floor, Williamsport. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Oladejo, call 570-321-2810. For more information, visit UPMC.com/PediatricsNCPA.

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