The scariest part about Halloween is not the witches, goblins and monsters that come out to haunt out neighborhoods. Rather, the most frightening thing is the danger to our costumed children of falls, burns, and pedestrian/car crashes. There’s no “trick” to making Halloween a “treat”; by following some basic guidelines, parents can make Halloween a night of safety and surprise.
Costumes should be flame-retardant, loose enough to allow for warm clothing to be worn underneath, and not so lengthy that the child might trip and fall. Think twice about using simulated knives, swords, or guns. Light-colored or reflective costumes are safest in the dark; consider putting reflective tape on darker costumes and treat bags. If a younger child, pin a slip of paper with the child’s name, address and phone number inside the costume or a pocket in case the youngster gets separated from the group.
Consider using face paint rather than a mask or anything else that might cover up the child’s eyes. If masks are worn, be sure that the holes for the child’s nose, mouth, and eyes are big enough. Face paints must be labeled as being “Made With U.S. Approved Color Additives”, “Non-Toxic”, or “Meeting Federal Standards For Cosmetics”.
An adult should accompany all trick-or-treaters under the age of twelve. With all the excitement, children can easily forget to be careful, so review the traffic rules before heading out. Children should lurch, slither, and sneak only on sidewalks, not in the street. If there are no sidewalks, walk on the farthest edge of the left side of the road, facing traffic. Cross the street only at corners, and never between parked cars. Look both ways before crossing the street to check for cars, trucks, and flying brooms!
Walk, do not run, from house to house, and never cut across lawns. Carry a flashlight or chemical lightstick to light the way and scare off any vampires! Only visit homes that have the porch light on, or that have lit Halloween decorations. Accept treats only at the doorway, and never go into a stranger’s home! Be sure that the child knows to say “thank you” each time they receive treats.
Older children who haunt unaccompanied by an adult should wear a watch that can be read in the dark, and should know an agreed upon time to return home. Help them plan the route they’ll take, and be sure they know the phone number where you can be reached in an emergency.
Warn your little monsters not to eat any candy until they return home. While tampering is extraordinarily rare, perhaps even urban legend, it is still wise for a grown-up to inspect all treats before any are eaten. When in doubt, throw it out – your child won’t miss it!
Homeowners who are greeting trick-or-treaters can also help make Halloween a safer night by removing tripping hazards, such as hoses, ladders, and leashes from their lawns, sidewalks, and driveways. Keep flames away from potentially flammable costumes by using battery-powered candles for the jack-o-lanterns. Finally, don’t risk a child being bitten by a frightened animal – put all pets away for the evening.