Safety in Numbers
Children 12 and under should be accompanied by a parent or other trusted adult. When out trick or treating, accompany younger children to the door. Also, never let children enter the home or car of any stranger. Kids 13 and older are usually mature enough to trick or treat with a group of their friends. However, you want to make sure they only trick or treat in familiar neighborhoods. Be sure those communities and areas are well-lit with sidewalks, crosswalks and other pedestrian-friendly features.
For older children, you want to know exactly where they’ll be trick or treating and what time they’re expected to return home. Older children should have a cell phone and understand how to call for 9-1-1 if necessary.
Watch for Traffic
The biggest risk for kids on Halloween isn’t strangers – it’s traffic. According to the U.S. Census, over 41 million children under the age of 14 will go out trick or treating on Halloween. The most popular hours for trick or treating are between 5:30 to 9:30pm. Unfortunately, more people are hit by cars during Halloween night than at any other time during the entire year.
In order to stay safe on the road, groups should stick to sidewalks and well-lit areas. Avoid jaywalking, busy roads and poorly lit locations.
Your kids just want great costumes. You, however, will want to make sure those costumes are safe. Avoid anything which can obscure your child’s vision. This includes masks. Face paint and make-up (non-toxic, of course) are a better, safer alternative. This same idea applies to the entire costume. Avoid anything which will interfere with movement. This includes avoiding costumes which contain:
- Long, flowing material
- Cumbersome shoes
- Stilts, wings, tails and other extras.
Bright Colors are Best
Bright whites and primary colors are easiest to see at night. Of course, not every costume can be brightly colored. After all, what’s Halloween without Batman, ninjas and other darkly colored characters? Use reflective tape and stickers on dark costumes. These are available online, in hardware stores or Halloween specialty outlets. Be sure and put reflective tape on trick or treat bags, too.
Also, each trick or treater should carry either a glow stick or a flashlight. If possible, carry both. Glow sticks increase your visibility to drivers. Flashlights allow for increased visibility for the trick or treaters.
Check out all accessories. Wigs, costumes and other materials should be flame resistant. Swords, canes, sticks and other objects should be point-free and made from soft material such as plastic or rubber.
Finally, avoid decorative contact lenses. These are color contacts sold in costume shops with labels such as “one size fits all” or “no need for an eye specialist.” These contacts are dangerous and can cause long-term eye damage. Plus, they usually impair the wearer’s vision pretty substantially.
Fear of kidnappings, abductions and other criminal behavior is often a big focus of Halloween safety. To be clear, the number one risk on Halloween is pedestrian auto accidents. But stranger safety awareness is still something all kids need to be aware of.
Young children should be accompanied by an adult while trick or treating. So the risk of anything happening involving a stranger is pretty low, since you’ll be there with the young child throughout the night. Be sure and never let your child go into a house or otherwise out of your sight.
For older children who are trick or treating in groups with their friends, you’ll want to emphasize they should never enter a stranger’s home or car. Groups of kids need to always stick together.
Also, all kids should understand how to say “no” to a stranger. If someone attempts to grab them or otherwise bother them, kids need to know it’s okay to yell, run away or even fight back.
Halloween at Home
If you’re anticipating trick or treaters at your door, you’ll want do some preparation earlier in the day. After all, you want to create a safe environment for the little ones. Here’s what you should do:
Clean your porch and remove any obstacles such as chairs, tables and so on. You’ll also want to remove any items from your lawn which could be tripped over. This includes lawn decorations, toys, bicycles, garden hoses and more. You’ll want to keep your lawn, porch and front door well lit. Proper lighting will help to dramatically cut down on accidents and injuries.
In many places, Halloween is wet and/or snowy. You’ll need to sweep or shovel a clear path to your door. If the weather is especially severe, you might need to go outside and shovel or sweep several times during the evening. Aside from helping the kids have a good experience, there’s another reason you need to maintain your walkways and porch. If someone falls and hurts themselves on your property due to your negligence, you could be found legally responsible. This could end up hurting you financially. So you want to make sure your property is free from any potential hazards.
Finally, remember your pets! Dogs and cats can be anxious with all the activity, especially if the doorbell will be ringing throughout the night. Usually the best course of action is to keep your four-legged friend inside for the night, in a crate or other closed area where they feel comfortable.
A Safe Night for Everyone
Halloween should be filled with fun scares, not real ones. Keep kids of all ages safe by ensuring costumes are visible, easy to move in and free from sharp edges. Accompany younger kids when they go trick or treating. Pre-teens and teens can safely trick or treat in groups as long as they have a clear route, flashlights and a cell phone.
By following the steps in the safety checklist above, you and your children will have a safe and fun Halloween which will be fondly remembered for a lifetime.
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