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Prepare for a safer, less stressful Halloween

By Stephanie Schupska
University of Georgia

Costumes are flying off the shelves, and candy’s not far behind. It’s almost Halloween. As children get ready to collect treats or help carve a pumpkin, a University of Georgia expert has a few tips to help the night go smoothly.

“If parents give a little thought to it, about how to lead up to the day itself, this will mean less stress,” said Don Bower, a UGA Cooperative Extension human development specialist. “Also, don’t wait until the last minute, and involve the kids in the holiday with choosing their costume and with decorations.”

Both a child and parent’s first thought is usually costume selection. Before children pick a particular costume, parents should consider how, when and where their children will walk through a neighborhood.

“The two biggest sources of injuries at Halloween are falls and pedestrian-vehicle contact,” Bower said. “The issue of falls is primarily the costume itself. Children may not be able to see very well with a mask on. At dusk or dark, they can’t see the stuff on the ground when walking through a yard. Thinking through those things ahead of time can prevent falls.”

Parents can help prevent the danger of pedestrian-vehicle contact by limiting trick-or-treating to neighborhoods with sidewalks and street lights and by accompanying young children as they collect candy.

Many communities are also moving away from traditional trick-or- treating “toward parties at homes,” he said. “Schools also have fall festivals for various reasons. These are generally organized by people who know children’s interests and abilities.”

The reasons parties and festivals are becoming more popular, Bower said, are because some parents are uncomfortable with the goblin and ghost ideas, with their children going out begging and with ethical implications.

The Halloween tradition of pumpkin carving is still going strong.

“Sharp knives and awkward things like pumpkins are not good around young kids,” Bower said. “Let the kids scoop out the seeds and draw a face on the pumpkin that the parents can then cut out.”

He also suggests using a pumpkin carving kit which comes with a tiny saw, which is easier for children to use than a knife.

To lower stress on Halloween, parents should think about activities they can do beforehand.

“Carving a pumpkin about two days before should be okay,” Bower said. “You could plan with your child what to expect for the Halloween celebration, including your preferences for what will happen to all the goodies collected.”

(Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

(Dan Rahn is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

(Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia Public Affairs Office.)

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