A Safe and Happy Halloween

My oldest daughter has always remembered loving Halloween. As a toddler, she would dress up and stand at the door handing out candy. As a tween, she and her friends planned the event for months down from costume coordination to candy gathering neighborhood map. Now, as a teenager still don costumes and either stay at home as a group handing out candy to the younger kids or go about the neighborhoods with their younger siblings supervising the event.

What she doesn’t remember, however, are some pre-toddler times and preschool Halloweens when the costume thing was just too much – for her to wear and for her to witness with others. She was fine if she saw moms and dads in clothes giving out candy but add a hat or mask and she ran for the hills!

My daughter was in good company. Her friends, in fact, ran with her and so did her little sister. While we adults find the event endearing and cute we forget that young children don’t understand that costumes are make believe. Once the make-believe thing kicks in, though, Halloween can be great family fun so wait for that moment and know it’s not that far away.

Beyond the fear factor, considering a few other tips will ward off unexpected gremlins from your evening and help you maximize the fun and treats more for everyone. Here are some tips compiled from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Red Cross to help you on your way:

  • Costumes should be bright and short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with fire-related objects, like Jack-o-lanterns.  All costume material should be flame resistant.   Make sure your child’s shoes fit well and that they are dressed for the weather – Halloween is often very chilly!
  • For better visibility, carry flashlights; reflective trick-or-treat bags, or the ready-to-use glow sticks.
  • Especially for older kids that are going out without an adult, make sure emergency identification (name, address, phone number) is discreetly tagged within Halloween attire or on a bracelet.
  • Use make-up instead of masks; masks can block vision.
  • Instead of carving pumpkins, consider decorating with markers and paint.  Also consider battery-powered lights for the pumpkin instead of candles.
  • At your home, remove anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.  Make sure your outdoor lights are on and the walkways are free of wet leaves.  Do not overload electrical outlets with holiday lighting or special effects.
  • Plan and review with your children which route is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when revelers must return home.  Make sure someone in the group has a watch and a cell phone for emergencies.   Make sure a parent or older teenager accompanies children, especially small children.
  • Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
  • Although sharing is encouraged, make sure items that can cause choking (such as hard candies), are given only to those of an appropriate age.
  • Avoid “homemade” edible treats – you can’t be sure what is inside.
  • Make sure your Trick-or Treaters:
    – use their flashlights and stay with their groups at all time
    – only go to homes with a porch light on.
    – remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
    – never cut across yards or use alleys.
    – never enter a stranger’s home or car for a treat.
    – obey all traffic and pedestrian regulations, and only cross the street at crosswalks.
    – call 911 for  any suspicious or unlawful activity.

Finally, above all else, enjoy an evening of fantasy and fun with your kids!