Keeping your child safe at Halloween

Halloween can be a fun time for children and adults alike, however, children with disabilities can find it more difficult.

What do Blue Buckets at Halloween mean?

Halloween is an exciting time of year for many autistic children and adults, but it can also be difficult for people with autism who struggle with unexpected changes or for those who are sensitive to noise, light and touch.

Back in 2018, a mother posted an image on social media of a blue pumpkin with the message, “If you see someone who appears to be an adult dressed up to trick-or-treat this year carrying this blue bucket, he’s our son! His name is BJ & he is autistic. While he has the body of a 21-year-old, he loves Halloween,”

She added, “Please help us keep his spirit alive & happy. So, when you see the blue bucket share a piece of candy. Spread awareness! These precious people are not “too big” to trick or treat,”.

The post went viral, gaining a lot of attention and support from the autism community and beyond.

These Blue Trick or Treat buckets are a signal to householders that the person carrying it has autism and may not be able to communicate as well as other children. These buckets are available to purchase online from sites such as Amazon and from some high street shops.

While some disagree with the practice, stating it labels children, as with a lot of things, it’s a choice that should be decided on the individual’s unique situation.

Read more about how the Blue Bucket / Blue Pumpkin initiative began, along with some tips on how to be mindful of children and young people with Autism here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-50245606

As it’s the first celebration we have during the dark nights it’s a great time to get all the children together for a bit of a party, but like every other occasion there are some safety steps we need to keep in mind:

 

HALLOWEEN COSTUMES

Halloween costumes can be great fun and children love to dress up as witches and skeletons and all sorts of other characters.

When purchasing a costume for your child make sure it is flameproof and adheres to British Safety Standards. These safety symbols are usually displayed on the label.

Evenings can get chilly around the end of October with the average temperature falling to 9c so it’s always a good idea for youngsters to wear vests, tights or leggings under the costumes. It would also be wise to ensure children have warm footwear and jackets when playing outside. If your child is in a wheelchair a warm fleece blanket tucked around them will keep them snug and warm.

 

BONFIRES AND FIREWORKS

Keep children at a safe distance away from fireworks and always have a responsible adult light them. Don’t throw a firework into a bonfire and never go back to a firework that has failed to go off.

Keep a barrier between the child and a bonfire or fireworks and always supervise them.

Sparklers can reach temperatures as high as 2000C so children should be always supervised when holding one. A handy tip is to stick a sparkler into a carrot to make it safer and easier for small hands to hold. Remember to allow space and never wave a sparkler around too close to others.

If clothing catches fire, remember, Stop Drop and Roll. Cool any burns immediately under cold running water for at least ten minutes. If the burn is a large area get medical advice as soon as possible. If clothing has been burned don’t try to pull it away as it may be stuck to the burn if this is the case seek medical help.

PUMPKINS AND CANDLES

Pumpkins are great fun and carving the scariest or funniest one can lead to lots of hilarity, however, care must be taken when using sharp knives. Get the children to draw on the pumpkin, let a responsible adult cut out the image, and let the child help scoop out the insides.

Now you have your pumpkin beautifully carved, it’s time to illuminate the design and put it on display. To avoid any accidents, don’t allow your child to carry a pumpkin with a lighted candle. If you prefer not to use tealights or candles, battery-powered candles are a good alternative to a live flame inside.

 

TRICK OR TREAT

Absolutely great fun and excitement, and a much-anticipated activity for little people. A good suggestion would be to plan the route you wish to take, avoid dark areas (unlit by streetlights), and wear something reflective to ensure the child is seen by cars. Young children should always be accompanied by a responsible adult when going out trick or treating. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure they can see clearly through it.

Never enter a stranger’s home, respect people’s property, close gates and don’t walk on flower beds. Some people fear Halloween so don’t knock on doors that don’t have some sort of Halloween decoration outside.

ALWAYS check that the wrappers are sealed and have not been tampered with. Unfortunately, although it is a rare occurrence, sweets have been known to be replaced with something sinister. It’s always best to check the treats properly before letting a child eat them, especially if the child has allergies.

Although the list above seems to be quite comprehensive and we do almost all these things automatically, it’s no great harm to read through and remind ourselves to be on the safe side. As the excitement builds some simple safety precautions can often be overlooked.