Halloween Costume Safety

By Alan and Shonna Hammond 
In the weeks leading up to Halloween, when it comes to choosing a Halloween costume, safety] is not normally a consideration for children. When it comes to their trick-or-treat costume, children are transformed into discerning fashion critics. When they normally could care less about clothing, suddenly their costume must be perfect and make a bold statement about who they are.  It must say, “I am five now and I am the true princess (or pirate, or Brett Favre, or fireman, you get the picture).” Thus, it can become difficult to ensure that a proper and safe costume is worn. You may have to get creative in your reasoning, but you must win in all of your costume requirements. Here are some things to look for when choosing a costume, along with some suggestions for accessories as well. 
First, if a mask simply must be worn, ensure that it does not limit the child’s field of view. There are lots of other kids running around and cars are not forced to remain parked during trick-or-treat hours, so good vision is important. Children often love , so they may be convinced to paint their face like a pirate instead of wearing the eye patch. 
Loose or flowing costumes may look pretty and seem harmless, but they are perfect for tripping or for catching fire over one of those pretty jack-o-lanterns. Steer your children away from such costumes or, at the very least, secure the loose ends so that they are not a hindrance or a fire hazard. Nowadays, many costumes are made of flame resistant material. Make sure the you purchase have a label indicating they are flame resistant. 
Halloween costumes need to contain reflective material. Glow-in-the-dark striping or tape, if not sewn into the costume, should be purchased and securely added. The clothing, trick-or-treat bag and shoes should all display some form of reflective material. If you can’t find reflective tape, have each child carry a flashlight, with new batteries, that is to remain turned on at all times. 
Depending upon where you live, Halloween weather can be unpredictable. If so, choosing a versatile costume that can be comfortable in all types of weather may be important. If the temperature or conditions on Halloween Night do not suit your child’s costume, make certain that satisfactory alterations or additions are made before going out.  
In the event that the costume has an accessory such as a magic wand, light saber, or a sword, try to ascertain whether the child is mature enough to properly handle it. Have them tell you how it should be carried while trick-or-treating. Watch them with the accessory prior to going out. If they don’t pass either test, someone will be injured before the night ends, so consider taking it from them or don’t let them out with it until they have passed a remedial course in “light saber safety.” 
Halloween can be a fun time for all of us, or it can be a time of great sorrow when tragedies occur. Fortunately, responsible parents can prevent a large portion of the injuries and unfortunate incidents with some careful planning and participation in their children’s activities. Remember to not only look out for the well-being of your own children, but for that of other children as well. If most parent’s take that advice, a lot more children will have a happy Halloween. 

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BiographyAlan Hammond is a law enforcement official, freelance writer and former educator. Shonna Hammond is a master teacher, writer and consultant.  Then Hammonds reside in Lexington, Kentucky and they can be reached in care of this publication or at ashwriting@insightbb.com.

No part of this article may be copied or reproduced in any form without the express permission of More4Kids Inc © 2006
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