Photo credit by Phil Scoville
Halloween is one of the most fun times of the year for kids, but it is also filled with safety hazards. If you plan to allow your kids to go trick-or-treating without you, make sure that they are prepared. These Halloween safety tips will help your kids have a fun and safe holiday.
An adult or responsible older child should accompany younger children, and everyone should understand which member of the group is in charge. Older kids placed in charge should not abuse their authority. Kids old enough to trick-or-treat without an adult along should always go in groups.
Teach your children never to eat anything they acquire until after they've taken it home for you to inspect. Making sure that they are not hungry when they leave the house will help keep their hands out of the candy.
Make sure that all costumes are safe. Each costume should be short enough that your child won't trip over it. Shoes should be comfortable and tied well so that the laces don't come untied. Hypoallergenic costume makeup is preferable to a mask, but if a mask is necessary, it should not impede your child's ability to see or breathe easily. Put strips of reflective tape on the costumes so that approaching cars can see your kids when they are crossing the street. As an added precaution, have all the kids carry glow sticks.
Although many localities begin trick or treat hours in the daylight, remember that dark comes quickly. In the dark, it is easy to trip over objects such as rocks, debris, and candy. Steps can be hard to navigate, and leaves can be slippery and hard to detect in the dark. Every group should have at least one flashlight to illuminate the path.
Remind your kids to watch out for cars by looking both ways before crossing the street. They should stay on the sidewalk, but if there isn't a sidewalk and they must walk in the street, tell them to stay on the side of the road and face oncoming traffic.
Map out a route for your kids to follow. The route should not include any unfamiliar neighborhoods. If possible, walk the route with your kids a day or two before Halloween. Teach your kids to look for signs that a house is approachable on Halloween. The porch or entryway light should be on, and Halloween decorations should be visible from the sidewalk.
Use modern technology. If it is feasible, purchase a GPS tracking device for the oldest child in the group to carry. This will allow you to monitor the group's whereabouts at all times to assure yourself that they are following the designated route and that they are safe.
Set a time limit. Have the oldest member of the group wear a watch and check it often so that everyone knows when it's time to head home.
Everyday safety tips apply on Halloween. Remind your kids not to accept a ride from anyone or enter any house unless you have already told them it would be all right.
Trick-or-treating is a fun activity, but it is not without potential problems. By planning ahead and taking a few precautions, you can ensure that your kids have a safe and happy Halloween.