Avoid an Allergy Nightmare on Halloween

// Meghan Walters on Wednesday October 25, 2017

Ghosts and ghouls may not be the scariest things this Halloween season. Researchers estimate that 1 in every 13 trick-or-treaters ringing your doorbell this year will have a food allergy. For some children, even the smallest interaction with an allergen can cause anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially deadly reaction. 

For parents of children with food allergies, trick-or-treating may feel like a nightmare. Prepare yourself and your community for a safe Halloween season by following these simple recommendations.  

  • Read the Labels – You may not think about it, but even a lollipop can contain allergens.  Be sure to read each label before allowing your child to eat the treat.  If the label is missing, like on homemade treats, then throw the item away.
  • Go Teal – Encourage your neighborhood to join the Teal Pumpkin Project™. Launched in 2014, the Teal Pumpkin Project raises awareness of food allergies, while promoting inclusion of all trick-or-treaters by identifying homes with allergy-safe treats and non-food alternatives. 
  • Alternative Treats – If you’re handing out goodies this Halloween, consider giving out glow sticks, stickers, bouncy balls or other toys.  These non-food treats will still be a hit with the kids, and they’re allergy-free.
  • Be Sure to Ask – Remind your kids that they should always ask before eating any of their treats. 
  • Make It a Game – By making safety precautions a game, kids will be engaged and have another layer of fun. Explain the rules of the game: no eating candy until you are home. At home, have a contest to sort candy into a “good to eat” pile and “bad to eat pile.” If they sort correctly, they can trade in the bad candy for a prize. Consider donating the “bad” pile to someone in need or a program like Soldiers’ Angels™, which sends Halloween candy to troops overseas.
  • Don’t Let Hunger Rule – Make sure you eat a good meal before you leave and carry allergen-safe snacks throughout the night. Full bellies are less likely to snack on unsafe food.

Share your tips and tricks for avoiding allergy emergencies with us on our Facebook page.

This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusion. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. GuideOne welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.

Meghan Walters

Meghan Walters

Meghan Walters is a Corporate Communications and Marketing Intern at GuideOne Insurance.

In addition to working at GuideOne, Meghan is a student at Drake University who enjoys hiking, cooking, traveling and finding the best places to eat in the Des Moines area. 

Decorate Your Home Safely this Holiday Season

// Natalie McCormick on Thursday October 15, 2015

We’re in the final stretch of the year and that means month after month of holidays and the décor that goes with them.  Whether you’re throwing a Halloween bash, Thanksgiving brunch or Christmas soiree, it’s important to keep safety in mind while you’re decorating this season.  Check out the tips below to avoid any Clark Griswold-like disasters as you’re getting in the holiday spirit.

  • Check each set of lights you plan to use for broken or cracked sockets, frayed wires or loose connections.  Discard any damaged sets prior to using them.
  • Securely fasten any outdoor lighting to protect it from wind.
  • Don’t overload your extension cords.  Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.
  • Before going to bed, turn off all decorative lights.  Lights can short and start fires.
  • Place trees and all decorations away from heating sources, including fireplaces and radiators. 
  • Keep candles out of high traffic areas to help keep them from being knocked down or blown over.
  • Choose materials that are made from plastic or non-leaded metals.  Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested.
  • If you have small children or pets, avoid decorations that are sharp or easily broken.
  • If you’re carving a pumpkin, carve in a clean, dry and well-lit area to avoid any accidents.

For holiday decorating ideas for your home, check out our Pinterest page for inspiration.

 

 

Sources: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Consumer Reports

This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusion. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. GuideOne welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.

Natalie McCormick

Natalie McCormick

Natalie McCormick is the Marketing Coordinator for GuideOne Insurance where she manages the direct mail program and assists with content marketing. 

When she's not at work she enjoys playing volleyball as well as perusing the local farmer's market.  If you can't find her outside you may find her inside reading a good book or baking a new recipe.

Halloween Hacks

// Natalie McCormick on Thursday October 30, 2014

Tip and tricks for keeping your Halloween safe and fun for the kiddos.

Halloween can be a spooky and fun time of year filled with pumpkins, fake spider webs and, of course, candy.  If you’re venturing out to trick-or-treat with your kids this year keep in mind these helpful tips and tricks for staying safe, healthy and having fun!

  • Lighten Up – Choose a light colored costume. These are more easily seen at night.  You also can add reflective or glow-in-the-dark tape/stickers to a costume. Costumes like a robot or astronaut easily lend themselves to these items but even your princess wand or candy bucket can glow in the dark!
  • Unmask – Choose face paint or makeup over a mask whenever possible.  Masks can obstruct your child’s vision and breathing. Make sure to test the makeup or paint on your child’s arm or hand before applying; in case it irritates the skin.
  • Glow – Give your child a flashlight or glow sticks to carry with him/her.  This makes it easier for your child to see and for him or her to be seen by others.
  • Fits Like a Glove – When choosing your child’s costume, make sure to pick one that fits well to prevent trips and falls.
  • Hi, My Name Is – Place a nametag somewhere on your child’s costume with your contact information.  While you’re not likely to get separated, it’s a good precaution to take in case you do.
  • Keep ‘Em Close – If you have older children that you won’t be joining for trick-or-treat, decide on a route ahead of time with them and set a curfew for when they’ll be coming home.  In addition, make sure they have a cell phone with them and only go to houses in the neighborhood with porch lights on.
  • Inspection – When your kids are home, check all of their treats and toss out any that have come unwrapped.  Also consider throwing out homemade treats that didn’t come from someone you know.
  • Feast – Before the festivities, make sure to have a filling meal with your family.  This way your kids are less likely to gobble down too many of their goodies.
  • Alternative Treats – Here’s a great list of ways to celebrate Halloween without the candy.  Also, offer your children and other trick-or-treaters treats that aren’t candy such as, stickers, coloring books, glow sticks or pencils
  • Get in on the Fun – Join your children under the age of 12 going door-to-door.  Don’t be shy about dressing up either. There are tons of pairs you could emulate: Dorothy and Toto, Frankenstein and a Mad Scientist, Princess and the Frog, Fisherman and his Big Catch.
  • Ration the Loot – Consider being lenient about candy eating on Halloween, but after discuss allowing one or two treats a day rather than letting them sample at will.  You may even consider giving some of the treats away.
  • Safe Haven – If you’re planning to hand out treats, make sure your sidewalks are clear, turn on your lights and make sure any pets are contained in another room or somewhere where they can’t frighten a child.

Do you have a creative treat you hand out, a clever costume hack or a fool-proof safety tip for trick-or-treat?  If so, share those with us on our Facebook page! 

 

Sources: Safe Kids Worldwide, Kids Health, Mayo Clinic

This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusion. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. GuideOne welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.

Natalie McCormick

Natalie McCormick

Natalie McCormick is the Marketing Coordinator for GuideOne Insurance where she manages the direct mail program and assists with content marketing. 

When she's not at work she enjoys playing volleyball as well as perusing the local farmer's market.  If you can't find her outside you may find her inside reading a good book or baking a new recipe.

Trunk-or-Treating: 10 Tips to Help You Plan a Successful Event

// Ellen Wade on Thursday October 23, 2014

The best part about Halloween is the candy, whether it’s helping you get through the scary movie your friend drug you to, the reward you’ll receive once you make it through that never-ending, cheesy haunted house, or the little gift you’ll give yourself after the kids are finally in bed after an evening filled with costumes, bad jokes and sugar highs.

Many organizations are now offering members of their communities a safer alternative to the traditional trick-or-treating, an event called Trunk-or-Treating.  During this event, adult members of the organization volunteer to decorate the trunks of their vehicles in Halloween-themed décor and pass out candy or other goodies to the children in their community.  This is a safer alternative because the event is often held in a parking lot, or other well-lit, contained area, and children are at less of a risk of being hit by a vehicle on a dark road.  It also allows families a chance to chat and get to know one another, and is a great way for your organization to get their name out in the community and raise awareness for your cause.

If your organization is considering holding a trunk-or-treat event this year, consider the following:

Guidelines

Have your board members or event volunteer committee discuss how the activity will be organized and what guidelines will need to be followed.  Some items to consider include:

  • Participants – Discuss whether or not anyone in the community can sign up to have a vehicle on-sight, or if only organization members will be allowed to participate in handing out candy.
  • Attendees – Decide who will be invited to your event. Will you allow only organization members and their families? The entire community?  Will there be a fee to participate, or will it be a free event?
  • Date – Will your event be held during regular trick-or-treating hours, or on a different day as to not compete?  Will you hold the event early in the evening to avoid the dark and colder temperatures?
  • Protocol for decorations – Will you allow candles or any other sort of flammable objects?  Will fake blood be allowed?
  • Food safety and allergy concerns – One in 13 children has a food allergy, so this needs to be addressed when you are discussing your event.  Will you allow homemade items to be passed out, or only store-bought, pre-packaged items?  Will you sell food and/or beverages during your event?
  • Building Security – If you are on-site at your facility, decide if the building will be open or locked during the event.  Will participants have access to the restrooms, the entire building or nothing at all?  If the building is open, consider having a volunteer monitor traffic to and from the building.

Once you have determined these guidelines, make sure they are clearly communicated to all who are volunteering and participating in the event.

Safety Concerns During the Event

Once you have your event mapped out, consider safety issues that may arise during the event itself:

Falls – Falls are the number one cause of unintentional injuries on Halloween. While this is more in your control if you are at your own facility, it’s important that the parking lot is safe regardless of who owns it.   Help ensure everyone has a fun time by inspecting the grounds for fall hazards, including parking lot, sidewalks, curbs, grassy areas, potholes, or any other hazard that may be hidden due to dim lighting.  To learn more about potential slips, trips and fall hazards, and preparing your parking lot, review this fact sheet.

Inclement Weather – Have a back-up plan if the weather is not ideal for an outdoor event – snow, rain, extreme cold.  Especially for younger children, Halloween costumes can be thin and not cold or winter weather-friendly.  If possible, have a plan for moving the event indoors if necessary, or schedule a rain date.  Watch the weather, and communicate any event changes as far in advance as possible.

Traffic – The benefit of hosting the event in an enclosed area is that the risk of children running into traffic is much lower.  However, there still will be vehicles moving in and out of the parking lot, as people come and go.  Have a volunteer directing traffic to help ensure there is a flow to vehicles entering and exiting the parking lot.  Also, have a designated walking area for children moving around the parking lot to help keep traffic flow away from that area.

First Aid – Due to the large number of people that will hopefully be attending your event, consider having a volunteer on site that is trained to administer care in the event there is an accident.  Also, have a First Aid kit handy for minor emergencies.

Prevent your Halloween event from feeling more like Fright Night by properly preparing for the activity.  Trunk-or-Treating events can be fun for all ages, and can be a great way for your organization to raise awareness for your cause.  Avoid putting a damper on the evening of fun and sugar by being thoroughly prepared for any issue.

This material is for information only and is not intended to provide legal or professional advice. You are encouraged to consult with your own attorney or other expert consultants for a professional opinion specific to your situation. This information is only a general description of the available coverages and is not a contract. In an effort to keep your policy coverage affordable, the actual policy contains certain limitations and exclusion. Please refer to your insurance policy for the pertinent contract language and coverages. Some coverages and discounts are not available in all states. GuideOne welcomes all applications, without regard to religion, race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or familial status.

Ellen Wade

Ellen Wade

Ellen Wade is a Marketing Specialist for GuideOne Insurance, focusing on content marketing and social media.

In her free time, she enjoys running, biking, reading and exploring new cities.