In our house the excitement of the first day of school is quickly fading and Halloween costume ideas are beginning. Rainbow Kitty, Rainbow unicorn…Rainbow unicorn kitty! There are so many options!
Halloween is a really fun time of year for kids. Ghosts, goblins and spooky sounds are around every corner, but one of the spookiest things about Halloween is how asthma and allergies can creep up on us. Consider the following:
The merriment and excitement of holidays can cause asthma and allergies to fall to the wayside. In school, the kids’ holiday parties are regulated by the school’s food policies to protect children with allergies, but the same kids who are protected behind a school’s doors are trick or treating in your neighborhood, too.
With the abundance of peanut/food allergies, Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) created the Teal Pumpkin Project. This initiative is to raise awareness of food allergies and to promote inclusion of all Trick-or-Treaters during the Halloween season. Here’s how it works:
You look for homes that have a teal colored pumpkin or a teal colored sign on their doorstep. These homes offer non-food, allergy friendly choices for your child.
If you want your home to be a Teal home you can visit the FARE website at www.foodallergy.org/education-awareness/teal-pumpkin-project to print out signs and get ideas on allergy friendly treats like glow bracelets, pencils, bubbles and mini note pads. Just be aware, items like moldable clay still contain ingredients like wheat, which is a known allergen.
Still want to hand out candy, too?No problem! FARE’s website offers a printable teal sign that says CANDY or a PRIZE and the child can choose. Make sure that non-food items and candy are placed in different containers to reduce cross contamination.
Some costumes, masks and makeup could contain latex, which is an asthma trigger. It is very important that you read the labels on these items. Area towns offer about a two-hour Trick or Treating time. A child with asthma could have a prolonged exposure to this latex during this time, causing an attack.
Sometimes we borrow costumes, and I know if you borrow one from me, it’s going to come out of a plastic container in my basement. Though I try my best to protect my costumes, they may have dust or mold on them. Be sure to inspect old costumes and give them a proper washing to remove dust or dust mites. If a costume is moldy, it is best to throw it away.
Another thing to consider is popular October outings. As we gear up to Halloween night, we visit pumpkin patches, enjoy hay rides and creep through haunted houses.
These are elements that can trigger an asthma attack. Children with asthma need to prepared for mold or allergies on hay that they are sitting on during a ride. Running through haunted houses, being scared and fog machines can all be asthma triggers, too. Moments of anxiety or fear can trigger a physical change in the lungs initiating a need for an inhaler. It is important that a child carries their short acting inhaler with them during these fun Halloween moments.
Finally, here in Pennsylvania, we have the most unpredictable weather. I remember everything from warm October nights to it snowing while I was handing out candy. The change in weather can cause a child with asthma to have a difficult time breathing. Cold temperatures can cause the airways to react and trigger an attack. It is important to have your child cover their nose and mouth with a scarf if the weather becomes cold while trick-or-treating outside.
Halloween is fun, and should be fun for everyone. You can still be scared and hunt for the perfect pumpkin without putting your asthma and allergies at risk. Think ahead and be prepared to make your Halloween the spookiest—but not in a bad way. .