Trick or treating is, for many children a highlight of Halloween – and a chance to collect a booty of sweets. But in all the excitement of dressing up and going ‘Woooh!’, the dangers can be forgotten.
Who can can forget when Strictly star Claudia Winkleman’s daughter suffered serious burns while trick or treating – after her witch’s costume brushed against a candle in a carved-out pumpkin, setting her alight?
“We couldn’t put her out,” the mum-of-3 told BBC’s Watchdog. “Her tights had melted into her skin.”
Halloween costume fire safety
“The material these costumes are made of melts when it burns and it will stick to the skin causing horrific injuries,” Geoff Harris, assistant county fire officer at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, said after the fact.
They advise parents to keep children well away from naked flames and use battery-powered candles in pumpkins.
If a child’s costume does catch on fire the advice from The National Fire Protection Association is to: Stop, Drop and Roll.
Stop – the fire victim must stop, ceasing any movement which may fan the flames or hamper those attempting to put the fire out.
Drop – the fire victim must drop to the ground, lying down if possible, covering their face with their hands to avoid facial injury.
Roll – the fire victim must roll on the ground in an effort to extinguish the fire by depriving it of oxygen. If the victim is on a rug or one is nearby, they can roll the rug around themselves to further extinguish the flame.
More practical tips for keeping trick or treating and Halloween parties safe…
1. Costume safety
Halloween costumes are classed as toys rather than clothes so they’re subject to less rigorous safety tests than regular clothing – this means they can be much more flammable. Take care around open flames and place candles out of reach of children.
Also, if your child has a mask, wig or costume, make sure it doesn’t restrict their eyesight or movement in anyway that could hurt them.
2. Plan your trick or treat route
Map out a trick or treating track choosing residential areas that are safe and well lit. Keep to pavements and find the safest places to cross the road.
3. Set off early
With the clocks going back, it will be dark by 5pm. Don’t leave it too late to venture out and plan to be home within an hour.
3. Be safe and seen in the dark
Add reflective accessories to bikes and outfits to help children stand out after dark. Halloween costumes themselves can also help children to stay visible in the dark. Orange stands out in dim light, as do bright white sheets, white ‘bandages’ and white ‘bones’. Glow in the dark or fluorescent face paints and accessories will also help children to be seen.
4. Only knock on doors of homes displaying Halloween decorations
This is now accepted practice – if you want Halloween visitors then let them know with a pumpkin or other Halloween decorations.
5. Take a torch
Stick the torch in a lantern or inside a pumpkin head for maximum creepiness combined with visibility.
7. Children need an adult with them
Make sure the responsible grown up dresses up to add to the fun!
8. Stick together
Make sure all children know not to go off on a solo mission. Let them know they must always stay with friends and their accompanying adult.
9. Don’t forget road safety – stop, look and listen
As simple as this sounds, it can be easy to forget – especially when munching through a bag of Halloween treats. Adults and children need to remember never to cross the road while texting or using a mobile phone.
10. Cycling at night? Use lights
If children are cycling at night the law says that bikes must be fitted with clean, working lights – white at the front and red at the back – and a rear reflector.
11. Make sure there’s nothing children can fall over
Often, kids want the spookiest atmosphere possible. This may mean turning off the lights, but if you’ve got tables and chairs in your party room, make sure they’re put somewhere safe where your little monsters can’t run into them and fall over.
12. Apple bobbing alternatives
If you’re concerned about apple bobbing as a game at your Halloween party, try a safer alternative by stringing up ring doughnuts for little ones to eat with their hands behind their backs or try some homemade Halloween recipes.
13. Wands, swords and other accessories
Although most kids will tell you that a wizard is no wizard without a wand or staff, you always need to make sure that they don’t get carried away if they decide to have a magical battle. Although the spells might not be real, the wands can hurt if someone is accidentally hit.