Whether your little ghouls and goblins are trick-or-treating on Halloween day or this Saturday – because times vary from one community to another – it’s essential that they take safety precautions. Here are the five tips every trick-or-treater or parent must know to keep trick-or-treat from turning into a real-life horror story.
1. Be visible. Halloween is among the most dangerous nights of the year for pedestrians. Children are twice as likely to get hit by a car on Halloween than they are on any other night of the year. Each year, hundreds of children die in a pedestrian car accident on Halloween – and that really is scary.
When night falls, dark costumes – like the bat above – make your child blend into the darkness, becoming even harder to see. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.
A major reason why pedestrians get hit is that motorists “don’t see them.” This year, don’t rely on drivers you don’t know and can’t control to make sure they’re paying attention. Take steps to make your child more visible. If you can persuade them to go for colorful costumes – maybe a vampire in red and black instead of just black – that’s a start. You can also add on highly visible accessories, like treat bags that glow in the dark or reflective tape on shoes, capes, or headgear. Another option is any light-up accessory, like flashlights or the flashing pumpkin necklaces we sent to some local Marlton schools this year. Just as trick-or-treaters need to make themselves visible, they need to make sure that they can see, too. For costume selection, face paint is preferable to masks that could make it hard to see.
2. Be street smart. Making themselves seen is only one half of what your little trick-or-treaters can do to protect themselves from being struck by a car. Make sure they know – and follow – the rules of the road that apply to them as pedestrians. Walk on the sidewalks rather than in the streets. Always cross in crosswalks instead of jaywalking. Look both ways whenever crossing the street. Keep to main, well-lit roads instead of dark alleys where you are more likely to encounter cars, poorly maintained premises, or even crime.
If your child’s costume includes a weapon, opt for lightweight or soft props that are clearly not real to avoid injuries from roughhousing and tragedies that could happen if a fake weapon is mistaken for a real one. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.
3. Be welcome. Not everyone is as enthusiastic about celebrating Halloween as your trick-or-treaters are, so remind them to only visit welcoming houses – often, those with porch lights or lighted decorations switched on. Remember, it’s never a good idea to go into a stranger’s home, so only enter the house if the owner who invites you is a neighbor or family friend you know well enough to trust.
Do you trust this homeowner enough to allow your child to visit if it wasn’t Halloween? If not, remind them to stay outside the house. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.
4. Be candy-cautious. Fortunately, most of the worst rumors about dangerous Halloween candy are just urban legends. Though stories of poisoned candy have existed for decades, none are legitimate cases of homeowners intentionally poisoning candy to distribute to trick-or-treaters at random, Snopes.com reported. There have, however, been rare substantiated stories of pins, needles, and razor blades found in candy, usually done as an ill-advised prank but rarely causing significant harm.
Make it a rule to have an adult inspect all candy before your child eats it. Look for any evidence of tampering with wrappers, and if in doubt, throw it out. You can always replace a favorite candy with a questionable wrapper (especially when leftover bags go on sale after Halloween). Be careful with candy, too, if your child has a serious food allergy. You don’t want your festivities ending with a trip to the emergency room to treat anaphylactic shock.
When it comes to non-packaged treats, use your judgment. Plenty of health-conscious families want to give out something nutritionally better for kids than candy, but don’t let your child eat any unwrapped treat from a stranger – even one that seems like a healthy alternative. In the rare cases where treats are tampered with, apples have been among the foods most commonly contaminated with razor blades or pins. Make sure your children know to only eat homemade goodies from someone they know and trust.
5. Be safe in numbers. If you have young children, take them trick-or-treating instead of sending them off on their own. Your supervision could make all the difference in keeping them safe, and it can also help if they become afraid of another trick-or-treater’s costume or a neighbor’s creepy yard display. (How old is old enough to go trick-or-treating alone? No such thing, in my opinion – and you, not the kids, get to make that decision for your family.)
Who says Halloween is just for kids? Put on a costume of your own and make trick-or-treating a family affair. It’s not just good supervision – it’s fun, too! Photo Credit: Corbis Images.
If older children are going unsupervised, make sure they go in a group. Have a talk beforehand about how important it is to stay in a group and to follow traffic safety laws. Choose a safe trick-or-treating route for them to travel in advance, and make sure at least one member of the group has a cell phone and emergency contact information for each group member, just in case.
There are few times of the year more magical for children than Halloween: dressing up as someone (or something) frightening or glamorous, collecting candy, and spending quality time with family or friends. A little fear is part of the holiday, but the scares should be all in good fun. Follow these five tips to make your Halloween a frightfully good time without any real-life frights.