A recent census report estimates that more than 41 million children will go trick-or-treating this year. Following recommended safety guidelines this Halloween will help keep your little ones safe.
Extra consideration should be given to ensure the safety of children with hearing loss. According to the American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) the prevalence of hearing loss in children has doubled over the last 30 years. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) states that two or three out of every 1,000 babies born in the United States have hearing loss in one or both ears.
Halloween Safety Tips:
1. Check Hearing Aids
If your child wears hearing aids, make sure the hearing aids are functioning properly before you leave the house. Confirm the volume level is comfortable for your child, and be sure to remove any visible debris from the earmold, tubing and hearing aid casing. A wire loop or brush can be used to remove the debris.
Remember to also inspect the earmold tubing for moisture. A single drop of water can prevent sound from getting through the tubing and into the ear. If moisture is found, an earmold dryer can be used to remove it.
Use a battery tester to ensure the batteries are fully charged, and be sure to take some extra batteries with you in case you need to change them while you are out having fun. It is also important to remember that small hearing aid parts and batteries can pose a choking hazard for young children, so be sure to store hearing aids and batteries out of reach and teach children that hearing aids and batteries are not to be played with.
2. Make Sure Costumes Fit Properly
Avoid falls by making sure costumes and accessories fit well. Keep face paint, glitter, and hairspray away from hearing aids; moisture and debris can block the microphones and cause malfunction. Apply any makeup, hairspray or glitter before putting on your child’s hearing aids.
Costumes that include masks, hats, or scarves can dislodge hearing aids or cover the hearing aid microphones, obstructing your child’s ability to hear. Try to avoid costumes with added accessories around the face and neck to help ensure that the hearing aids stay securely positioned and function optimally.
3. Stay Nearby
Most experts recommend adult supervision for children under 13. Adults can keep an eye out for potential dangers while children are out trick or treating. Children with hearing loss may not be able to hear if a car is idling, and may unknowingly walk in front of the car assuming it is parked with the engine off, even with a hearing aid. Be sure to use sidewalks and crosswalks and encourage children to walk, rather than run, between houses. Please remember to face the child when communicating, and gain the child’s attention before crossing the street.
4. Go in Groups
Children who can safely trick or treat without adult supervision should stay with a group of at least three other children. If your child is going trick-or-treating without you, establish a plan and outline the route the children will take before they leave. Also, make sure that your child has a way to get ahold of you, whether it’s a cell phone or through another adult nearby. Ensure each child in the group is familiar with the route, agree on an arranged meeting place to check in with them, and confirm all children in the group know when you expect them home.
5. Wear Reflective Clothing and Bright Colors
While out trick-or-treating, children should have flashlights, glow sticks or even reflective tape applied to costumes and treat bags to help increase visibility for pedestrians and drivers.
Keep these five tips in mind for a happy, safe Halloween! Pay extra attention to little ones with hearing loss, as the excitement of trick-or-treating can distract even the most attentive children, and make sure to keep track of how your child’s hearing aids are functioning throughout the night. Confirming your child’s hearing aids are securely positioned and functioning properly will ensure that you and your child can focus on having fun this Halloween.