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Family Roundup: Having a Safe and Fun Halloween

Tips on how to help keep your kids safe while they have fun this Halloween. Also, here are some Halloween ideas that go green and save greenbacks.

My husband and I love Halloween as much as our kids do. He still can recall which of his family’s neighbors gave out the best Halloween loot when he was a child trick or treating many years ago. Halloween remains a wonderful time to make great memories with your children. In addition to having fun and making memories, you also want to keep your kids safe.

Helping parents keep kids safe all year round is the mission of Eastside mom Kim Estes, a certified child safety educator and sexual abuse prevention specialist, who founded Savvy Parents, Safe Kids

Estes said parents should make sure that a costume is safe from hazards and made more safe with a few modifications.

“Make sure their costumes are not too long and causing a tripping hazard and that swords or knifes are made of soft pliable plastic because they will have a sword or knife fight with the neighbor kids," she said. "I am a huge fan of reflective tape and glow-in-the-dark spray paint. Both can be purchased on sites like Amazon.com. Use the tape on the costume and use the spray paint in the street to say SLOW! or BEWARE: TRICK OR TREATERS. It goes on clear when painted and does not last long in our wet weather.”

Estes said that when trick or treating, kids should approach only well-lit homes, not enter any house unless accompanied by an adult that they know, figure out their route ahead of time and stick to it and use the buddy system. Young kids also should always be accompanied by an adult, she said.

“Remind kids to be alert for vehicles and stay on the sidewalk whenever possible and look both ways before crossing,” she said. Older kids and teenagers should also head out with a buddy and be smart about safety, she said.

Halloween decorations also can become fire hazards, if used without care, Estes said.

“Use battery operated 'candles' in pumpkins on Halloween night. Kids are not paying attention and crowd together at the front door and costumes can easily be brushed up against open flames,” she said.

Trick-or-treating with the family dog or cat also can be fun, but families should take precautions, she said.

“Adults should also be careful when taking pets along when trick or treating or having pets a the door when trick or treaters arrive. Masks and other costumes can be frightening to pets and can cause them to act aggressively if frightened," she said. "If you are unsure, test your pets comfort level by trying on a mask and see how they respond.”

Estes recommends WagNTrain’s website for more tips on Halloween, pets and safety. There are also ways to keep safe and sane during the holidays after Halloween. Estes will offer a free class on class on Keeping Kids Sane and Safe During the Holidays Nov. 16 from 6 - 7:30 pm at the .

Once you have a safe costume put together and reviewed the safety rules, it is time to have some Halloween fun! Here are some events in Bellevue:

Halloween events

Non-members and members are invited to the at Lake Hills' that starts at 5 pm on Saturday, Oct. 29, with “trunk or treating” in the Samena's parking lot with prizes for "best costume" and “best car decoration” (preregister at Samena by October 25th to participate).

will have trick-or-treating on Halloween night from 5 pm to 7:30 pm.

will have trick-or-treating, a mad science booth, ballon-tying clowns and take-your-own photo booths throughout the mall from 5-7 p.m.

A Halloween Carnival at Your Local Market Oct. 30 and 31 will benefit Camp Korey. The carnival fundraiser will offer lots of free activities including pumpkins, face painting, pony rides, carnival games, bouncy house and arts and crafts.

Crafty? Consider entering the Great Pumpkin race taking place this Saturday, October 22 at 10 am at the . Think of it as a pinewood derby race, with pumpkins instead of cars. Register online.

will also hold a Halloween event on Oct. 29 with Radio Disney 1250AM Saturday, Oct. 29, 3-5 pm in the South Concourse. Halloween takes on a "Cars II" theme this year with free DVDs as one of the many prizes for the kids. Enjoy music, dancing and entertainment from the Radio Disney Team and go trick-or-treating among the merchants.

Making green, being green for Halloween

And if you want to save some money this Halloween, consider going green by making your child’s costume, hosting a costume swap or buying a “recycled” costume from a local thrift stores. Our kids love homemade costumes and my husband takes pride in creating something amazing each year based on their creative imaginations. One year our son was a UFO with blinking lights and another a giant broccoli – complete with an “organic” sticker.

Costume swaps are another great way to keep old costumes out of landfills. You can have them with a small group, like a mom and tots group or a preschool class.

Last year, Redmond teacher and Girl Scout troop leader and unit manager Kate Sorenson, hosted a public costume swap as a service project with her Girl Scout troop at the Redmond library. Her troop put on the swap as part of learning about recycling, saving energy and living green.

If you host a swap for the public, Sorenson recommends partnering with a library or other public space, do a costume drive within your group first to get a base of costumes and provide a craft or other activity for your kid guests and volunteers to do during the slow times. Plan ahead for next year and check out the website for National Costume Swap Day, this year’s was Oct. 8, where you’ll find listings for local groups and organizations that are hosting swaps.

Thrift stores including Bellevue’s offer an amazing array of many inexpensive “recycled” costumes for babies to adults, as well as a large selection of new costumes, masks and hats and Halloween makeup. You can also find decorations here at a fraction of the price you would pay for them new including metal pumpkin shaped votive holders and Halloween themed candles. 

Keep your decorating green by using pumpkins, squash and dried corn stalks to decorate the outside of your home, which can all be composted when the holiday is over. The Bellevue is currently offering an outside “pumpkin palooza” of all sorts of pumpkins and other gourds in a huge variety of shapes, colors and sizes.

A great book to read to your kids about pumpkins and the “cycle of life” is Will Hubbell’s Pumpkin Jack, one of our family’s favorite “holiday books”, available at the , or (go online and put a hold on one of the 12 copies) or you can buy it at or perhaps find it at . You can even grow a pumpkin next year from this year’s seeds, as the little boy does accidental in the book. Or you can bake them for a fun snack. Now that is a healthy Halloween treat even your child’s dentist will approve.

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