How To Have a Fun and Safe Halloween Night
As parents, we have been bombarded for at least a month on which Halloween costumes to buy, and which treats to give out. You may have already done the “Haunted House” decorations on your home. But have you considered all the safety precautions?
As costumes get more elaborate and expensive we still need to ask if they meet safety standards. In fact, there are many things we need to consider before sending the kids out for some good old-fashioned Trick or Treating!
It’s great to have such realistic and scary costumes available for purchase now. But it’s important to keep some safety top of mind. A big part of safety is being seen, so if possible pick light coloured costumes and attach reflective tape in various parts of the costume and on bags the kids will be carrying. Glow sticks and flashlights are also a great idea. There will be cars on the road, it helps immensely if drivers can see the kids.
The ability of your kids to be able to see is also important. So, if possible avoid masks or costumes that impair vision. Choose face paint as an alternative. While it may be useful for kids to carry a cell phone for emergencies, it’s important the device be tucked away in a secure pocket. Too many distractions increase danger. Kids need to be alert when crossing the streets etc. Show them how to make eye contact with drivers before crossing at intersections when cars are present.
We all know every “holiday” is expensive when you are a parent. We understand that “hand me down” costumes are great ways to manage a household budget. But make sure the costume properly fits the kids, with no loose parts that could cause a fall or vision impairment. It’s also best to avoid providing youngsters with potential weapons, like plastic swords etc. Keep it simple.
Planning a route is also essential for a fun and safe night. When you plan, you can minimize the number of street crossings. Avoiding darting back and forth across streets. Complete one side of a street, cross at an intersection, then come back and do the other side. It’s best to choose neighbourhoods close to home and familiar. Kids under 10 should have adult supervision, and the buddy system helps immensely. Work with your neighbours to spell each other off etc. It can be a great way to unify the neighbourhood.
When you head out, leave your pets at home. Pets are a huge distraction to kids and adults. The costumes and scary decorations can also be startling for dogs as well. It’s best to leave Fido safely at home. If you encounter animals while you are out, it’s best to leave them alone. They may not be kid friendly and may also be spooked by the costumes and noises etc.
At Your home, turn on all your outdoor lights, it helps keep your street and neighbourhood safe. It also sends a signal that you are welcoming the Trick or Treaters! Don’t forget to teach your kids how to identify homes that are open for business. A lit Jack O’ Lantern on the step or in the window is a sure sign, avoid houses that are dark and unlit. Kids should never go inside a strangers’ home, candy should be distributed through the door on or on the front porch. If not, leave and move on.
If you can avoid driving on the evening of Halloween, please do so, the fewer cars on the road the better. But if you must drive, slow down! Try to avoid neighbourhood streets when possible, and keep your eyes peeled for rogue kids walking and running. Make sure your running lights are on and leave your cell phone off and turn off your radio to reduce noise. You just cannot predict when a child may be distracted and run out. Keep all eyes and ears focused on driving!
While you may be creative, and perhaps a great baker, save those talents for your family and friends. For Halloween choose store bought individually wrapped, nut free, treats. This makes it much easier for parents to sort through the bundle of goodies that comes home with the kids. If you find a homemade treat or items with open or broken packages, throw it in the garbage. When something has obviously been tampered with, put it in a safe place, and promptly notify the police.
If you are decorating your home, avoid using real candles or tea lights, battery powered options are much safer. If you must use candles, make sure they are securely placed, and nowhere kids may come into contact. Many costumes and Halloween decorations are highly flammable, so avoiding any potential contact with candles is essential. October is also Fire Safety Month!
The final challenge for a great Halloween experience is for parents to avoid the temptation to raid the kids loot after the kids are finally in bed! Enjoy this fun family time.