Halloween is a great time of year for kids and families celebrate this holiday across the globe. Many adults remember celebrating All Hallows with their friends and family – from the super fun costumes to the seemingly endless supply of sweets and the fun but spooky atmosphere, Halloween holds lots of wonderful memories for millions of children. That being said, Halloween does have some dangers – from open flames catching onto costumes that aren’t flame retardant to knocking on strangers doors and busy roads, there are a lot of hazards around on October 31st. The safeguarding experts at Care Check have put together some tips on how to keep your kids safe this Halloween.
Why does the UK celebrate Halloween?
Halloween derives from the Celtic pagan festival, Samhain, which means “Summer’s End”. This festival celebrated the end of the harvest season and would see people dress-up in animal heads and costumes with the intention of warding off any ghosts roaming around. Halloween also has links to All Hallows Eve – a Catholic celebration that takes place the night before All Saints’ Day.
It’s important to remember that Halloween in the UK is different from the Mexican celebration Día de Los Muertos (the Day of The Dead) that lasts for three days. While both originated in celebrating the end of life, Halloween in western culture has been largely stripped of its connection to the afterlife, and when it is referenced, it isn’t in a loving or celebratory way.
Tips on keeping children safe this Halloween
Swap any candles or open flames with battery-powered candles
Glowing pumpkins that line the exterior of the home look great, but the open flame of the candle can pose a real danger to children in long, flowing costumes. When purchasing a Halloween costume, make sure to read the label and look out for the message “This garment has undergone additional safety testing for flammability.”
In 2014, national newspapers reported that the daughter of TV Presenter Claudia Winkleman suffered severe burns after her Halloween costume went up in flames – a wider investigation had shown that polyester costumes for children were highly flammable, and weren’t put through stringent fire safety tests. If you want to have light-up pumpkins, you should swap the candles out with battery-powered candles, or make sure that lit up jack-o-lanterns are well out of the way of children and pets.
Check your kid’s sweets before they eat it
It’s better to be safe than sorry, which is why you should check all of the sweets in your children’s bags before they eat them. There have been reports of parents finding needles inside sweets and A-Class drugs in their children’s Trick or Treat bags – while this is incredibly rare, it is better to take prevention rather than cure approach. Alongside this, you should check for any potential allergens – especially if your child is allergic to nuts, soya, egg or dairy.
Make sure your children can be seen in the dark
While you can be really creative with your children’s costumes, you also need to make sure they’re safe and can be seen in the dark. As the sunsets a lot earlier during Autumn, there’s a strong chance you’ll end up trick-or-treating at dusk or dark, and you need to make sure that you and other drivers can see your kids in the dark. From carrying glow sticks and torches to putting reflective paint on your children’s costumes.
If your kids are going without an adult, make sure they’re in groups of 3 or more
There is no legal minimum age limit for children to go out and trick-or-treat – it is completely up to the parents. If you think your child is mature enough to go trick-or-treating with their friends, then make sure they’re in groups of three or more. Alongside this, you should discuss the route they’re going to take, set a curfew for them and reinforce that they’re not to eat any sweets until they get home.
Only knock on decorated houses or the houses of people you know
From a very young age, we teach children not to talk to strangers and the same rules should apply for Halloween. A good rule of thumb is to only knock on the doors of houses that have decorations or people you know – these decorations or pumpkins will signify whether they’re involved in the celebrations.
Never go inside the home of someone you don’t know
A great rule of thumb is to never go inside the home of someone you don’t know to get sweets. If someone asks you to go inside that you don’t know, politely decline and move on – it’s all about stranger danger.
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