Mardi Gras is a time with lots of colorful beads and other throws that children like. LSU AgCenter Family Development professor Dr. Diane Sasser offers some tips to help keep kids safe during Mardi Gras parades.
• Always watch what your children catch, especially toddlers and infants who can choke on broken beads and trinkets.
• Make sure you remind your children to stay out of the street, particularly during parades when it is very tempting to follow the marching bands and the colorful floats. Accidents happen when floats are unable to make sudden stops.
• Establish a meeting place with your family in case someone gets lost. Also, make sure your children carry some type of identification card that includes their name, address, telephone number and pre-arranged meeting place.
• Research the routes and traditions of parades. Some parades are suitable for adult audiences only. Be sure that you are in a safe neighborhood for viewing the parades. Sometimes the smaller hometown parades are more appropriate for families with children and may be less crowded.
• Teach your children to find a police officer in the event that they get lost.
• Avoid alcohol consumption. It impairs your judgment and limits your ability to care for your children.
• Remind your children to be careful when reaching down to pick up throws. It is a better idea to put a foot on the trinket and pick it up when it is safe. Otherwise, they may get their fingers smashed when someone accidentally steps on their fingers as they reach to pick up throws. Better yet, have your children use umbrellas (if allowed) or bags or something else large that can serve as a target for the items thrown from the floats. Krewe members love the challenge of throwing beads at a targeted spot.
• Avoid putting your child on your shoulders. Doing so can put both you and your child in danger. Crowds can move unexpectedly, making it easy for the child to be knocked over or for you to lose your balance and trip.
• If your child goes in costume, face paint is safer than a mask. Costume masks can impair your child’s vision.
• Make sure your children know to stay with you and away from strangers.
For local information and educational programs in related areas of family and consumer sciences, including nutrition and health, parenting and family economics, log on to the LSU AgCenter Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com or call your parish LSU AgCenter Cooperative Extension office.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture