8 Halloween Safety Tips for Trick or Treating

As pirates, princesses, and zookeepers hit the streets, remember these important safety tips.

Trick or Treating is an American tradition where kids get tons of candy while dressed up in a fun costume. As pirates, princesses, and zookeepers hit the streets, remember these important safety tips.

1. Make sure the costume fits the child properly. Although a long tail or a tight-fitting mask may look amazing, make sure all pieces of the costume fit and are comfortable. Keep skirts and pants at a length that does not cause tripping, and ensure the costume allows for safe shoes. Costumes should also allow children to have their full range of motions for arms, legs, and head to prevent an injury in the event they fall. Masks should not obscure vision as children need to be able to see clearly.

2. Use makeup and hair gel instead of masks. Replace heavy masks with creativity that allows for easier movement and normal fields of vision. Creative makeup easily replaces superhero, animals, and other masks.

3. Add reflectors, headlamps, and glow brackets or necklaces. These help drivers and other people see the child to avoid accidents and also helps families and friends keep track of each other.

4. Be mindful of younger kids. Often, trick or treating starts just before sunset and this is the best time to take younger children. Toddlers and preschoolers, with their parents or guardians, can be the first trick or treaters and gather their candy before the scarier costumes are out and about. If a younger child gets scared of a costume or home decorations, they may bolt in fear and can easily get hurt running down the street.

Baby girl (12-15 months) wearing flower costume, looking away5. Never allow the children to enter a home. Trick or treating should be done on the porch and/or driveway but not in the home. Some neighbors may create haunted houses and ask children to go inside. Unless this is a well-known neighbor and friend, do not enter – it’s best to stay outside.

6. Trick or Treat with friends. Older kids who are participating without direct adult supervision should travel together and tell their parents the route they plan to take. Cell phones can be used to check in periodically. Make sure every child knows the time they are expected back home.

7. Limit your area. Just because you can get a full pillowcase of candy from your neighbors doesn’t mean you should. Trick or treating is fun and getting candy holds great appeal for kids but don’t feel like you have to hit every home in the neighborhood. Set the expectations for younger children on how far you will go. Also, set time limits for older children. Respect that some homes may not participate, so only visit houses with the porch light on, respecting the privacy and property of those who may not be home.

8. Inspect all treats. Before letting children eat any candy, go through their loot and throw out any items that appear to be opened, damaged, repackaged, or homemade. Also, if children have allergies, inspect the ingredients of all candies and treats.

Trick or treating has been a tradition since the Middle Ages, but these modern tips will help keep our children safe.

5 Water Safety Tips – Just in Time for Summer

Although this article doesn’t cover all aspects of being safe in the water, these tips can provide a safer, more enjoyable time at the river, lake, beach, or swimming pool.

Now that school is out for the summer, almost every day, my son asks if we can go to the beach or the pool. Since I also love the water, we go often but I’m always aware that drowning is the second most frequent cause of death for children up to age 14*.

To help keep my son safe in the water, I follow these 5 behaviors:

  1. Swim in designated areas with lifeguards
  2. Wear life jackets
  3. Do not get distracted or drink when supervising children
  4. Be a strong swimmer and teach children to swim
  5. Be aware of the weather (thunderstorms) and use sunscreen

Although this article doesn’t cover all aspects of being safe in the water, these tips can provide a safer, more enjoyable time at the river, lake, beach, or swimming pool.

children swimming with blow up rings1. Respect Life Guards and Aquatic Life. Whether at the beach, visiting a lake, or heading to our community pool, we always swim in designated areas with life guards. Lifeguards are employed on a 1:100 ratio and this is based on the expectation that parents or care givers will provide direct supervision of their children. Children under 10 years old must be accompanied and constantly supervised by a parent or care giver over 16 years of age.

It’s important to follow all lifeguard instructions as well as flag warnings. Different beaches and states have different colored flags and assigned meanings, so be sure to ask the lifeguard if you’re not sure what the flags signify. In general, red flags indicated the beach may be closed or there is a high hazard caused by surf or strong currents. Yellow flags indicate a moderate hazard and that waters may be rough and care should be taken if you are not a strong swimmer. Green means low hazard with calm conditions but be aware that currents will naturally push you down the shore. A purple flag indicates there is potentially dangerous marine life such as jellyfish which have been spotted in the area. Please leave animals alone including sea stars, sand dollars, and animals in sea shells. When handled by humans, even when handled gently, these delicate animals are often so severely injured, the interaction leads to their death.

2. Wear Life Jackets. It is important to Invest in proper-fitting, Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices or PFD’s which are also called life vests or life jackets. Since infants and children come in many sizes and shapes, the U.S. Coast Guard and personal flotation device (PFD) manufacturers urge that PFDs be tested immediately after purchase. Check the PFD for the proper weight range, comfortable fit, and especially a stable face-up position in water. You should test your PFD in a swimming pool and test it with the infant or child who will be wearing the PFD. To check for a good fit, pick the child up by the shoulders of the PFD. If the PFD fits right, the child’s chin and ears will not slip through. Some infants and children float best in one style of vest, while others will float better in another. To work as designed, a PFD must fit snugly on a child. Parents and care givers should remember that inflatable toys and rafts should not be used in place of life jackets.

asian girl in pool3. No Distractions or Alcohol. Drowning can happen quickly and quietly anywhere there is water including in the presence of lifeguards. Thus, it’s important to make sure at least one person is fully dedicated to watching children in the water. When tasked with this responsibility, you must keep focused and not get distracted. Cell phones should be put away, ear buds should be taken out or the speaker volume for music should be set to low. Conversations with others should allow for your focus to be on the children with your chair or standing position such that you can see the children at all times. If children are not wearing a life jacket, you should be in the water with the children, no more than arm’s length away. It’s easy to get distracted with a quick call or searching for a snack in a beach or pool bag but these can be the precious seconds or minutes when your attention is needed to save a child who needs helps in the water. Remember that you are responsible for the safety of children in your care, even if there are lifeguards. Adults often enjoy the summer time and water sports with alcoholic beverages including beer, wine, and liquors. For everyone’s safety, avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating, water skiing, and other water sports. Do not drink alcohol while supervising children as alcohol reduces balance, coordination, and judgment, and its effects are heightened by sun exposure and heat.

woman swimming with child4. Know and Teach Swimming Skills. Teaching children to swim can be a fun activity for both adults and children. Children ages 2 to 4 years old are coordinated enough to begin learning to swim. Kids under 4 years old and who do not know how to swim should wear a life jacket, even in the pool. Kids over 4 years old should take swimming lessons. As children learn water skills, remember that they are not yet strong or independent swimmers and still require full supervision. Don’t assume that a child who knows how to swim isn’t at risk for drowning. All kids need to be supervised in the water, no matter what their swimming skills.

5. Weather (Thunderstorms) and Use Sunscreen. When planning a day of fun on the water, it’s important to check the weather conditions and use sunscreen. Adverse weather includes a high heat index or thunderstorms as they may impact water activities. As a storm or thunderstorm approaches, pools and other activities should be stopped and the water evacuated when there is a threat of a lightning strike.

Just one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person’s chance for developing melanoma, or skin cancer later in life. Racking up more than five sunburns at any age also doubles the risk. Thus, it’s important to keep sunburns away by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB with an SPF 15 or higher. SPF stands for the sun protection factor and is an indication of sunscreen effectiveness at preventing sunburn. Infants under 6 months of age should be kept out of the sun as their skin is too sensitive for sunscreen. An infant’s skin possesses little melanin, the pigment that gives color to skin, hair, and eyes and provides some sun protection. Therefore, babies are especially susceptible to the sun’s damaging effects.

boy on paddle boardFor older children, sunscreen should be applied generously 30 minutes before going outdoors so the skin has time to absorb it. Don’t forget to protect ears, noses, lips, and the tops of feet. Take sunscreen with you to reapply during the day, especially after the child swims or exercises. This also applies to waterproof and water-resistant products. Sunscreen should be reapplied per the directions but at least every 2 hours and as often as every 90 minutes for children who are more susceptible to sunburns.

Water play is an important part of summer fun, so enjoy the local pool or head to the beach! To learn more water safety tips, enroll in the Water Awareness course offered in the Basic Childcare program by Amslee Institute at AmsleeInstitute.com.


About the Author. Elizabeth Malson is a Certified Emergency First Responder Instructor and Master Scuba Diver Trainer. Elizabeth is also an adjunct faculty member of Amslee Institute, an organization dedicated to professional training and certification of elite Nannies and Sitters.

*Reference: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. [cited 2017 June 24]. Available from URL: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars.

Why Parents are Struggling to Find Trusted Childcare

Nearly 30% of parents do not hire a potential sitter due to safety concerns.

As a single mom, I have been blessed with wonderful nannies who went above and beyond; however, one incident changed the course of my life. I hired an experienced live-in nanny, but on my first business trip, I experienced every mother’s nightmare. When I called the daycare to check on my son, I learned he wasn’t there. I couldn’t reach the Nanny, so I called the police. The police found the nanny and my son safe and sound at home – the nanny had decided to keep my son home but didn’t call me or the daycare. After hearing my son’s voice and knowing he was safe, my initial sense of relief quickly passed. I became frustrated – how did the nanny and I have such a big communication gap?

After sharing this experience with other moms, I realized I wasn’t alone. Families have amazing nanny stories where the nanny helped them be better parents and these same families have times when they struggled with in-home childcare. “I hired someone to help care for my twins, but she kept putting the diapers on backward” shared Amanda Collins, a mother of four in Sarasota, Florida. “I spent more time trying to teach her than getting help with my sons.” Amanda’s not alone as an American Red Cross survey found that 55% of parents decided to stay home because they couldn’t find a trusted nanny or sitter.

Why Parents Struggle to Find Great Nannies

A good friend of mine is a human resource professional who hired hundreds of employees to a fortune 100 global company. When it came time to hire her first nanny, she called me and ask for support. How should resumes and applicants be screened? What questions should be asked? What criteria can help her make the right hiring decision? She has over 15 years of hiring experience in the corporate world and admitted that hiring her first nanny was the most stressful.

Matching the family needs to childcare job titles and levels of responsibility is vital to find the best fit. Families can’t realistically hire Mary Poppins at a babysitter rate so it’s important to help families understand the different types of sitters, nannies, and family assistants. Babysitters provide for the safety of children for several hours, often with the family members nearby and available by phone. Nannies’ responsibilities include preparing meals and supervising activities for the children, but also include scheduling outings and providing additional support such as transporting children to and from school, sports practices, play-dates, and other activities while parents are at their places of employment. While Nannies focus solely on the childcare, Family Assistants perform childcare duties with additional family responsibilities.

Clear Qualifications Benefit Nannies and Families

While there are training programs and state requirements for daycare workers and teachers, no qualifications are required for nannies and sitters. “Licensed childcare certification programs for nannies are vital to help families ensure their children are cared for by qualified persons” shared Dr. Lauren Formy-Duval, a child psychologist and a mom who hires Nannies to help care for her children. “Nannies and Sitters should have access to affordable and high-quality training that not only provide practical skills but also enable a career path, just like teachers and other professionals.”

After a lot of research and meeting with nannies, I discovered an opportunity to provide affordable, college-level training so nannies can learn valuable skills and communication qualifications for premium jobs and higher wages. I founded Amslee Institute, working with over 30 college faculty members including child psychologists, teachers, lawyers, nutritionists, and other experts including professional nannies. Together, we created the first online trade school where nannies earn specialized childcare diplomas and certifications by complete programs licensed by the Department of Education.

All nannies, whether part or full time, should have CPR and First Aid certification and invest in childcare training that teaches age-appropriate growth, development, and activities from newborn through primary years. Nutrition, fitness, health, art, music, and communication courses provide practical skills to help nannies excel as in-home childcare providers. The Professional Childcare Diploma from Amslee Institute provides 45 hours of courses and requires at least 2 years of paid childcare experience. Nannies can also benefit from continuing education programs offered by international Nanny Training Day, the International Nanny Association annual conference, and Nannypalooza.

There are several options for childcare certifications that include in-person and online programs. When looking for a childcare certification program, check the organization is licensed as a post-secondary school. It’s also important to know who authored the training. If needed, see if the program offers job training or placement support.

If you are a parent seeking certified childcare, join our network at www.amsleeinstitute.com/hire-graduates.