Halloween is full of tricks, treats, ghoulish games, frightening frocks, cute costumes, glowing Jack O’ Lanterns, pumpkin packed parties and, of course, spookiness! Unfortunately, all of the fall festive fun has dangers lurking. Whether you are a parent of two-legged loved ones or four-legged furry loved ones, it is critical to be aware of the true goblins hiding behind all the ghostly fun. I called upon two experts who have simple tips for a safe, scare-free Halloween to keep your children and pets safe.
First up are the experts in keeping your little people pumpkins safe. They may have “boo” in their name, but there is nothing scary about Boo Boo Busters. As a leading professional childproofing service, they know a thing or two about keeping your kids safe. Next, are Halloween safety tips for your pets from Dr. Anthony George, doctor of veterinary medicine and certified veterinary acupuncturist. He has been taking care of all kinds of pets for over 20 years and his tips are sure to keep you furry friends from howling at the moon.
Kid Halloween Safety Tips:
- Choking hazards: As a good rule of thumb, a choking hazard is anything that can pass through a cardboard toilet paper roll holder unobstructed. Look closely at all the items that you are putting out on display. From bats and ghosts to the pumpkins you roast. Hazards lurk everywhere!
- Flashlights: Child safe flashlights have a child safe battery door that is secured by a screw to prevent removal of the battery, which prevents the parts from becoming choking hazards. Use flashlights or electric candles to light up your pumpkin too, flames and kids don’t mix.
- Halloween lights: Look for Halloween light strings that have tamper resistant bulbs that can’t be removed easily and remember cords pose a strangulation hazard. All cords should be kept short, out of a pathway and tight. Take the excess cord and bind it up with a zip tie. Make sure the cord can’t be made in to a loop to be placed around a child’s neck.
- Pumpkin carving: Remember to only use child safe cutting tools while carving pumpkins, even as an adult. Kids learn by watching you, so if you use real knives know they will want to do the same. As soon as you turn around to grab something you forgot… little hands wander.
- Costumes: As a kid it’s a joy to dress up. Our job is to make sure dress up is safe. Costumes should never obstruct movement, never cause visual impairment and never pose a tripping hazard. Stick to material that is form fitting. If it’s loose, baggy or long it could create a tripping hazard. Avoid masks that can impair vision. Face painting is the safest mask.
- Glow at night: Make sure your child’s costume is visible or is is equipped with something that makes them visible. Glow sticks are great and kids love them, but remember, never hang anything around their little necks unless you are using a child safe breakaway lanyard. A couple glow sticks secured to shoes can be seen from a long way away. Flashlights are a good eye catcher as well as fun.
- Candy: Remember to make sure you go through and check all the candy you are keeping. The candy should be in name brand with sealed packages. For candy bars, be sure you cut them into small pieces that are easy to chew. This also helps to ensure it hasn’t been tampered with. Unfortunately, ghouls are sometimes disguised as regular people. No candy treats, until Mom or Dad has taken a good long look at the loot!
Pet Halloween Safety Tips:
- Pet costumes: Yes, your pet looks absolutely adorable in that costume! Keep in mind, your fuzzy family member might not be as thrilled with the outfit as you are. Feel free to get an amazing photo, but respect the fact that your pet may want to get out of those duds as soon as possible. Make sure the outfit is comfortable, and pay special attention to straps that may impinge upon the neck and areas where the extremities meet the body. Never leave a pet unaccompanied in a costume to avoid any “wardrobe malfunctions!”
- No chocolate! : Most people know chocolate is toxic for their pets. Chocolate contains methyl xanthine, which can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from stomach upset to tremors, hyperthermia and seizures. At high doses, chocolate can lead to collapse and even death. Generally speaking, the darker and more concentrated the chocolate, the more dangerous it can be. There are helpful charts available (for instance on petMD.com) that can tell you what doses are dangerous for your pooch. If in doubt, it is always best to contact your veterinarian to see if immediate treatment is needed.
- Watch out for Sugar-Free: Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found commonly in sugar-free gum as well as other products, can be extremely toxic to dogs. When ingested, it can cause a significant release of insulin, which can lead to extremely low blood sugars. At high doses, it can also lead to liver failure. If your pup has ingested this substance, always contact your veterinarian immediately; your pet may need treatment and supportive care.
- Healthy treat dangers: If you’re offering healthy alternatives this Halloween, keep in mind that grapes and raisins can be extremely toxic to dogs. Some pets are more sensitive than others. In some animals, the toxin can lead to stomach upset initially, followed by kidney failure within 24 hours. It is always prudent to contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested these substances.
- Burning Jack O’ Lanterns: Flames and fur aren’t a good combination. Just as you do for kids safety, consider replacing that Jack-O-Lantern candle with a flickering LED light.
Now that you have the ghouls at bay, enjoy your Halloween! Wishing you and your entire family a night full of treats and no tricks!