Some tips to keep your trick-or-treaters safe
Despite his mother’s concerns, Ryan Nateghi’s heart is set on a specific style of Halloween costume.
“I want one with a mask — just this one time,” he says, looking at the Scream Ghost costumes.
His mother, Debbie Nateghi, tries to steer him in another direction.
“But don’t you like the Zombie Ninja?”
The 8-year-old barely even looks up at his mother’s choice.
Ryan and Nateghi spent more than an hour last week at Party City trying to reach a costume compromise.
Ryan’s argument: Costumes with masks are scarier. He needs a really frightening costume to scare his sister and win the costume contest at his Boy Scout Halloween party.
Mom’s argument: Masks can obstruct vision and are more dangerous. Plus, they recently moved here from Texas and the other kids at the party won’t know who is behind the mask.
“Safety is very important,” Nateghi explains. “He’s too young to trick or treat by himself, so we go with him. He’ll be wearing a necklace that blinks, and I carry a very bright flashlight.”
Just then, Ryan spots the holy grail of Halloween costumes: the Crypt Master, complete with a skull mask, silver chains, black hood and long cape with faux leather trim. The executioner ax is sold separately but necessary to complete the look.
“Mom, I want this one,” he pleads. “Come on, Mom.”
Nateghi frowns at her son’s choice and continues, “And we always check the candy before they eat it.”
In the end, Ryan came home with his original pick: the Scream Ghost costume, mask and all.
“He’s thrilled. He wanted to sleep in his costume,” Nateghi said the next day. “He put it on as soon as he got home, and it was a struggle to get it off when it was time for bed. I’m sure when he gets home from school, he’ll put it back on again.”
As for Halloween evening, Nateghi said Ryan will get to wear his mask, but she’ll keep a firm grip on his hand if they cross any streets.
Walk and be wary
Halloween is a time for tricks, treats and surprises. But don’t let one of those surprises be a trip to the emergency room. Before your little Crypt Masters and Zombie Ninjas hit the streets on Wednesday night, take time to think about safety
“On average, twice as many child pedestrians are killed during Halloween compared to other days of the year,” said Daphne Greenlee, Safe Kids coordinator at Mercy Injury Prevention Program. “The most common hazard is drivers don’t see the kids in the dark.”
To prevent such accidents, Greenlee recommends adding reflective tape to all costumes and treat bags so they reflect in a car’s headlights. Also, carry flashlights with fresh batteries and walk in groups.
“Don’t go to any house if you don’t know who lives there. Stay together in a group and never walk inside a house for anything,” she said. “And especially if you are new to the area or don’t know your neighbors that well, there are safer (Halloween parties and trick-or-treating venues) at places like churches, the mall, the Discovery Center and Dickerson Park Zoo.”
Springfield mom Lisa Bakke’s family follows that advice every year.
“We go to some Halloween festivals. Then we just trick or treat at our neighbors and their grandparents,” she said while shopping for costumes at Party City with her children, Jaden, 9, and Olivia, 22 months. “Also, I look through the candy before they can have anything, and they are definitely not going without me.”
While inspecting your child’s candy is important, parents should also monitor how much candy and sweets their children eat, said Katie Towns-Jeter, administrator of chronic disease prevention with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.
“We have such an issue of chronic obesity in our country and here in Springfield,” Towns-Jeter said. “Try to spread out the Halloween candy over a period of time.”
For those who will be handing out treats, Towns-Jeter suggests giving one piece per child rather than a handful of goodies.
“And if there are other options available when you are buying candy, such as individual packages of graham crackers, raisins or pretzels, get those. I know the kids might not think it’s as much fun, but I guarantee they eat them. And I’m sure parents will appreciate pretzels and things other than candy for their kids