In recent years, Singaporeans have begun to participate increasingly in the fun of Halloween, dressing up, bringing their children trick or treating, or decorating their homes for Halloween parties. And while we have read or heard about the horrors of Halloween in other countries, we may think that the safe streets of Singapore are immune to these dangers.
However, dangers come in many forms, some less obvious than you might think.
Costumes can pose a wide variety of dangers for both the young and old. If you are dressing up your children for trick and treating, make sure to take note of the following points.
Flammability – One of the biggest concerns with any costume is how easily or quickly it may burn. There have been multiple incidents of costumes catching fire during Halloween over the years. Many victims were children who unknowingly stood too close to candles or other open flames while others had their costumes ignited by sparks caused by nearby celebrations. Aside from incidents with open flames or sparks, there have also been adults who accidentally lit their costumes on fire while trying to light their cigarettes. While many got away with little to no injuries, others have suffered from severe burns or even died as a result of their injuries.
This has become such an issue overseas that various fire departments and news stations have reported on this, going so far as to produce their own videos demonstrating how flammable some costumes are.
Video credit: Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service
So, the next time you are shopping for a new costume for yourself or your child, check if there are labels indicating that it is fire resistant or flame retardant. Try to reduce veils, capes, shawls or other loose and dangling accessories as these are often more flammable and children also tend to be less aware of their surroundings than adults, putting them at higher risk of injury. If you’re making a costume for your child or yourself, remember than natural fabrics such as cotton or linen tend to be highly flammable and burn rapidly. While artificial fabrics such as nylon and polyester tend to burn slowly, they also melt in the process, causing molten reside to remain which can cause further burns.
Footwear – Your child may look cute waddling in your high heels or other adult footwear, but those poor fitting shoes make kids prone to tripping and may lack suitable support for their growing feet.
If your child’s costume comes with costume shoes or other forms of footwear, reconsider their use as many of these are not designed for outdoor shoes. Instead, make sure that your child has shoes that fit properly and have proper grip to avoid them slipping or falling. Here is a video with some tips on choosing proper footwear for your kids.
As for your own costumes, comfortable supportive footwear will allow you to better enjoy the Halloween parties you attend, reducing the chance of injury even when you spend the long hours on your feet.
Visibility – This is a smaller concern as the streets of Singapore tend to be brightly lit, but if your child wants a costume that is mostly dark or black, consider giving them some brighter accessories to help others see them more easily. Reflective strips on their outfit or glow-in-the-dark bangles or similar accessories can make them more visible to drivers, pedestrians and others who share the road such as PMD users.
Design – Adults and children usually have different concerns regarding the design of their outfit. Some adults may be concerned about looking good while minimising the risk of wardrobe malfunctions, while children tend to prefer dressing up as their preferred characters or persons. These preferences can mean long hems that trail across the ground, masks that conceal the face, or various accessories such as wings, headgear and costume jewellery.
Aside from the dangers of being set alight, long hemlines, shawls and capes may also catch on furniture or other things, causing injury to your child or increasing their chances of tripping. To prevent this, shorten any items of clothing that dangle or reach the ground or reduce the things.
While masks may look cool or help complete an outfit, they can also reduce or restrict visibility, limit ventilation or fit poorly. These factors increase fall risk and increase discomfort for your child. One alternative is to use non-toxic face paints, which also give you an opportunity to bond with your child over painting one another’s faces.
Props and Accessories – Hats, scarves or other headgear should be secured. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, these can come loose or restrict visibility.
Props such as swords, guns or other items should be made of a soft flexible material. This helps to prevent injury should your child trip as well as protect their companions from any accidents.
For those with very young children, costumes with small accessories that can be bitten off or removed should be avoided as these can be choking hazards.
While it is uncommon for Singaporeans to open their houses to trick and treaters, some try to decorate their homes and invite friends and family to parties. Some general tips to remember include:
- For those living in landed homes, create a well-lit path to your front door
- Remove potential tripping hazards
- Avoid open flames and use battery operated candle lights instead
- Avoid overloading extension cords as this is risk for electrical fires.
- Pumpkin carving poses its own dangers. Using a smaller knife or pumpkin carving kit rather than large kitchen knives reduces the risk of accidental cuts
Trick or Treating Dangers
Aside from the well-known dangers of excessive consumption of sugary treats, trick or treaters should remember these safety tips.
- Young children should be accompanied by their parents or a responsible adult
- For unaccompanied older children, parents should review their routes and agree on a time to be home
- Children should not enter the homes of strangers
- Stay as a group
Keeping these tips in mind will help you and your family have a safe and wonderful Halloween!