Ooh, Halloween - I still get excited even as an adult! And it's not just for us big kids (!) - our little ones love dressing up looking terrifying and eating loads of yummy sweets, as well as picking and decorating pumpkins! But whilst it's lots of fun, there is also potential for danger – and we’re not talking bumping into Frankenstein or falling foul of a witch's spell! So as a parent, what should you be alert for on Halloween? Here’s our handy guide . . .
Brutal boiled sweets and mean marshmallows
Lots of sweets are unfortunately choking hazards, with round / oval boiled sweets being the worst. Check what sweeties are being handed out and siphon off those that don’t feel safe – anything that is very round / grape shaped and hard should be avoided. If your child is older and out with friends, ask them to leave any boiled sweets until they are at home – running around excitedly with friends is really not a sensible time to be consuming these.
Marshmallows, especially the mini ones are definitely ones to avoid. They are roughly the same size as a 2-3 year old’s airway, and if swallowed whole can get lodged in the airway, completely obstructing breathing.
If you are concerned you would not know what to do in a choking incident, sign up to one of our Mini First Aid classes today
Have you used a choke tester? We absolutely love them for quickly checking if a sweetie is a choking hazard - if it fits in the tester, don't give it to a baby or toddler! This handy kit from Fred Safety also contains a finger trap tester and handy safety stickers:
Buy your home safety check tools here
It’s really hard when trick or treating in the dark to see the ingredients on a random product handed out by a stranger, so it’s not surprising that cases of allergic reactions can peak at Halloween.
The Anaphylaxis campaign recommends the following to parents of allergy sufferers:
- Remind your child what their food allergens look like, and which products they need to be careful with
- Ask your child not to eat any treats until you have checked them, or for older children, ask that they bring their treats home. Have other safe treats available at home so you can do swaps for the unsuitable treats
- Be aware that “treat size” versions of popular brands can contain different ingredients, so make sure you check ingredients lists
- Keep adrenaline auto-injectors on you at all times, even if this means tucking it into their costume or putting in their goodie collection pot
- Brief adults and children who are with your child – what are they allergic to, what are the signs and symptoms to look out for – and teach them how to administer emergency medication if possible
Don’t forget that some children may also have an allergic reaction to face paints and / or fake blood used as part of their costume.
It’s obvious, but the safest thing is to not use real flame candles in your pumpkins. However, whilst you might use battery operated LED candles yourself, this doesn’t mean other people will – the amount of doorsteps I have seen over the years laden with lit pumpkins is unbelievable. The risk of kids costumes trailing innocently into a lit pumpkin decoration is truly terrifying. So, make sure you warn your children to be wary about pumpkins either on the ground or being carried as they may have a lit flame in them, and supervise children, especially when approaching decorated doorsteps.
If you have candles lit in your home, remember the following safety advice:
- Never leave candles or a fire unattended
- Put candles on a heat resistant surface
- Supervise children and pets around lit candles
- Always extinguish a candle completely after use
No Halloween costume is completely safe, because all fabrics will burn on contact with a naked flame, but there are steps you can take to make sure your child’s costume is as safe as it can be. Take a look at this great infographic from Trading Standards UK:
You also need to be careful when buying online. Always read product reviews and check for any product recalls. The Trading Standards website is a good place to look.
In addition to the above precautions, there is one more thing you can look out for - companies may also choose to label garments with the additional statement "This garment has undergone additional safety testing for flammability" if they have passed the additional testing requirements of the British Retail Consortium Code of Practice. This means that if a dress-up costume catches light it may still burn, but the speed at which the flame spreads is slower. Costumes not tested to the same flammability standards may ignite more easily and burn quicker.
It sounds obvious but if you can, avoid any costumes with trailing fabrics, as these are much more likely to accidentally catch on fire. And as an extra safety precaution, make sure your child wears long layers on both top and bottom half underneath their costume, as this will give their skin an extra layer of protection should the worst happen and their costumes catches alight.
Let’s be honest, carving a pumpkin (or a rock hard swede as it was in my day!) is not the most sensible idea! When it comes to cool and quirky Halloween decorations, pumpkin carving isn’t the only way to go.
For a safer option, why not try painting your pumpkin face with a bright cartoon character or be inventive by painting the whole pumpkin in tasteful gold or silver sparkly paint? Turn ordinary pumpkins into brilliant DIY decorations - there is loads of inspiration online!
Above all, we hope you and your families have a really fun filled Halloween – don’t get spooked out there folks!
Charlotte and the Mini First Aid Team xx